ITHACA, N.Y. — After several months of negotiations, baristas at Gimme! Coffee ratified their first contract with management this week.
In a statement, barista Samantha Mason said, “Having a contract that protects me and my co-workers is only one of the benefits to having a union. For me, the most integral part of this has been to see how far my co-workers and I have come in building solidarity, in rebalancing power and having the courage to take action and create a better workplace. It’s important to me that all workers understand that they can change their workplace.”
In June, baristas voted 16 to 1 to unionize. The union includes non-managerial baristas who work at the Gimme! Coffee locations in Ithaca. There are shops on State and Cayuga streets, as well as Gates Hall on Cornell University’s campus.
In a news release, the workers’ center said some highlights of the baristas’ contract include a union “just cause” clause to protect workers from unfair discipline or discharge; a union grievance and arbitration procedure to resolve workplace problems; wage increases; establishment of a paid sick day program; and monthly joint labor/management meetings.
Pete Meyers, coordinator of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center, said in a statement the center is happy for the baristas for having the “wherewithal to stand together and form a union within their workplaces throughout Tompkins County, and congratulate them on negotiating their first contract.” He also praised the management of Gimme! Coffee and owner Kevin Cuddeback for being responsibly neutral during the process.
In a statement, Cuddeback said, “I’m a proponent of people coming together to build a better world, and I look forward to working with the union toward the advancement of the company mission.”
The contract process took seven months of work. It took a lot of listening, many edits and discussions about workplace issues, baristas said in a statement.
“Many people would think that the contract is the end-all-be-all of this journey. In reality, it’s the milestone preceding a new leg of our journey. We’re starting a new campaign, leveling up, and equipped with new knowledge and well-earned rest, we’re ready to forge on,” they said.