Unions Approved at 3 Somerville Coffee Shops

Workers at Diesel Café, Bloc Café and Forge Baking Company in Somerville, Massachusetts, have unionized and agreed to a new contract

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The union movement is picking up steam in coffee shops across the country. Three cafes in Somerville just become some of the first in Massachusetts to approve union contracts, and they hope it becomes a blueprint for the rest of the industry.

Employees at Diesel Café, Bloc Café and Forge Baking Company voted on a contract that includes a 95-cent raise within the first month. It also includes other pay raises twice a year. The agreement also increases paid time off for every year spent at the company.

"It's beneficial for all of the workers, specifically, so we are not being taken advantage of and we are getting the pay and necessary benefits that we needed," shift runner Gaelon Kolczynski said.

Kolczynski said the employees at Diesel were inspired after seeing the steps other companies were taking. The labor fight at some Starbucks locations in the Boston area made headlines last year. Employees at Pavement Coffee also recently unionized.

State Rep. Mike Connolly, who represents both Cambridge and Somerville, said pandemic and inflation are both reasons why the union movement is gaining traction.

"It's become impossible for too many residents just to meet the basics of living so that helps fuel efforts for workers to organize and ask for better conditions," Connolly said.

In addition to coffee shops, Connolly said the teacher strike in Woburn is another example of how the working class is organizing.

Customers at Diesel Café said they stand with the employees, even if they have to pay more for their morning cup down the road.

"I haven't noticed any increase yet, but if it means I'm chipping in a little more, I don't mind because I know it's going to a good cause and employees are getting what they deserve," customer Mihir Sharma said.

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