Seven Workplace Wins to Celebrate in ‘Seventeen
DEC 21, 2017 | COWORKER.ORG
2017 may have been tumultuous, but that didn’t stop people from speaking out about issues in their workplaces — and winning improvements.
Here are some success stories from Coworker.org users this year:
Adoptive parent baristas won paid parental leave at Starbucks. Early in the year, Starbucks announced a new parental leave policy in which parents who work in the corporate office — including moms, dads and adoptive parents — have access to at least 12 weeks of fully paid time off, but baristas who adopt initially received no paid leave. After Starbucks partners spoke out — and even took their message to the company’s shareholder meeting — the company updated its policy to include adoptive parents who work as baristas. Some Starbucks partners are still calling for paid paternity leave for new barista dads.
Etsy committed to goals designed to improve the company’s impact on the world. An engineer at Etsy, Kiron Roy, started this campaign calling on the company to stick to its values after investors installed a new CEO and abruptly cut 240 jobs. (Read more about Kiron’s campaign and his experience organizing for change at work in this previous Medium post.)
Employees at BG Cowboy’s Saloon in Syracuse, NY, won back pay they were owed after the restaurant closed suddenly. In October Michele Lindor, a former manager at the restaurant, started this campaign on Coworker.org with the support of the Restaurant Opportunities Center to collect the pay she says that she and her coworkers were owed before they were informed by text message that the restaurant was closing.
The Seattle Office of Labor Standards found the owner of Coffee Tree & Poke guilty of first degree violation of wage theft and retaliation. Jhenn Whalen started her effort in 2016, but this year, Seattle took action based on her campaign that claimed that the coffee shop’s owners retaliated against employees who took breaks and were taking some of their tips away. At the conclusion of her campaign, Jhenn told her supporters: “While Coffee Tree & Poke is a small business in the ocean of Seattle commerce, your combined signatures have given gravity to the serious offenses committed against vulnerable employees.”
Workers at Matchbox Food Group in the Washington, DC, area who say they were fired in retaliation for speaking out won a monetary settlement. Five former employees joined together, with support from the organization Many Languages One Voice, after they said they were fired for speaking about a range of issues they say they experienced while working for this local restaurant chain. One of the workers, Ana Hernández, had this message to other workers: “I urge you to not remain silent about workplace injustices.”
After thousands of Uber drivers joined together, the company added an in-app tipping feature. For several years, thousands of Uber drivers shared their stories and joined campaigns on Coworker.org demanding better wages and in-app tipping before Uber rolled out the new feature in the summer.
Ben & Jerry’s agreed to implement a worker-driven human rights program to improve the lives of dairy workers. Concluding a multi-year effort by workers and Migrant Justice, Ben & Jerry’s became the first corporation to sign the organization’s Milk With Dignity agreement, in which the company will pay a premium to ensure that the workers who produce milk for the company are treated with “dignity and respect.”
There were other examples of employees finding innovative ways to amplify their voices together:
Employees at IBM say they’ve made significant progress in “build[ing] an organization inside the company that can hold IBM accountable to our values, and serve as a model for tech workers at other companies.” Oracle employees took note and started their own efforts to address issues important to them.
REI employees, who had previously launched a campaign that lead to wage increases and improvements to the retailer’s scheduling policies, launched a new campaign this year after they learned that Target had committed to increase its starting wages to $15/hour by 2020. Earlier in the year, they attended the company’s Annual Members’ Meeting and distributed their own brochure to highlight their movement and provide an alternative message about the company’s performance.
In a report about its internal investigation into its sale practices, Wells Fargo publicly acknowledged that the bank’s Chief Risk Officer “read highly critical comments by Wells Fargo employees in an online petition relating to sales pressure and sales practices.” This led him to highlight these sales practices to the Board as a significant risk. Throughout this year, Wells Fargo made adjustments to its operations after its ended sales quotas that employees said had led to fraudulent accounts.
These stories just scratch the surface of the many ways employees worked together to improve their workplaces in 2017. What changes will 2018 hold for workers around the world? Much of that depends on you. What do you want to change? Start your own effort here.
Coworker.org is a global platform to advance change in the workplace. Our technology makes it easy for individuals or groups of employees to launch, join, and win campaigns to improve their jobs and workplaces. You can start your own campaign about changes you want to see in your workplace on Coworker.org here — or contact us at [email protected] if you would like to discuss a workplace issue with our team.
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