Local Café Employees Move Forward with Organizing Efforts | New

Employees of the Harvard Square Pavement Coffeehouse and Darwin’s Ltd. coffee chains. have decided to unionize in recent months as stores seek to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Workers at Pavement and Darwin’s declared their intention to unionize after delivering a letter to their companies in June and September, respectively.

Pavement Coffeehouse CEO Larry S. Margulies said in an interview that he felt “a bit of ambivalence” when his employees informed him of their decision to unionize.

“I believe in the right of people to do whatever they want,” said Margulies. “Now is a difficult time for us to have a conversation like this, coming out of Covid. It took me by surprise, but I am fairly neutral on this subject.

“But I also understand my needs as a businessman. If we can coexist, so much the better. It doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, ”he added. “It’s not necessary, for one side to win, the other must lose. But there are certainly challenges right now.

The negotiation process between employees and management of Pavement is now underway, according to Margulies. He maintains that his “ultimate goal” is to have happy workers who care about the company.

“That’s why I’m happy to talk to the union and sit down with them,” said Marguiles. “I recognized this union very quickly and said if it’s something my employees want to explore, then I’m happy to explore it with them.”

Darwin’s employees said they modeled their organizing effort on Pavement’s.

Annina C. Kennedy-Yoon ’20, barista at Darwin’s and member of the organizing committee, said workers were being pushed to organize to rally for better working conditions.

Kennedy-Yoon said that in addition to preparing food and serving guests, her job is also to remind people to wear masks, which she described as “frustrating and tiring.”

“It’s really unfortunate how people just don’t see you as a person,” she said.

Mitchell Fallon – the director of communications and policy for the New England Joint Board UNITE HERE, which represents the two unions – said the Darwin’s union had been voluntarily recognized by the company and would now work to formulate the objectives of the union.

Fallon added that once a card count process takes place to determine how many workers are in favor of unionizing, negotiations for a contract will begin.

“There were no firm demands in that initial letter as this is really a collective process,” Fallon said. “We need to get together with all Darwin workers to understand how everyone feels about things.”

Steven Darwin, the owner of the eponymous coffee chain, confirmed that the store was in the “legal process of formal recognition”.

“Until the agreements are signed and the state recognizes the union, I and the management team must remain completely neutral so as not to influence the process,” Darwin wrote. “I can say that we are very excited to work with Darwin’s United Union to get through these difficult times in the industry.”

– Editor Tracy Jiang can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @_tracyjiang_.

– Editor Davin W. Shi can be contacted at [email protected]


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