Updated: Jan 19, 2021
An overview of the Service Industry Workers of the Ann Arbor Area (SIWA3) livestream on 12/17
American businesses are structured in a way that gives absolute power to owners, middle managers, and corporate employees with little to no understanding of day-to-day operations, and no concern for those that do the real labor behind every successful business. Even if your current conditions are tolerable, your safety and security are subject to the whims of the corporate revolving door.
Fighting for your right for a voice in decisions that impact your job means building solidarity with fellow workers. Here are seven ways to organize your workplace:
1. Get to know your coworkers on a personal level
Addressing workplace concerns starts with genuine friendship and mutual trust to look out for each other. Build relationships with your fellow workers by communicating and spending time together outside of your shift.
2. Openly discuss concerns
Talking to your coworkers about poor conditions only feels unprofessional because your boss doesn’t want you to do it. Chances are, you have quite a few concerns that you didn’t realize others had as well.
3. Outline specific concerns
What are your demands? Make a concrete list with your coworkers so when the time comes to know what to fight for.
4. Bring your concerns to management (and watch them do nothing)
Management will tell you that issues can be dealt with through peaceful discussion. In the high likelihood that they refuse or only pretend to address your concerns, you and your coworkers will know that it’s time to escalate the situation.
5. Ask regular customers for help
Locals who become close to employees can be an asset when fighting poor workplace conditions. Invite them to events and ask them to help spread information about your struggle.
6. Talk to the IWW
Industrial Workers for the World stands apart from other unions because it represents every industry and fights alongside workers instead of attempting to represent their interests without understanding them.
7. When all else fails, open a co-op
Although retaliation against unionization is illegal, many businesses like Augie's Coffee in Portland will still decimate their workforce to crush union effort. Fortunately, solidarity between the baristas led to the development of the coffee cooperative Slow Bloom which is already past its Kickstarter goal.
Mutual aid is crucial for solidarity, and SIWA3’s recent fundraised achieved its goal of $10,000 to support service industry workers and their families over the holidays. Join SIWA3’s Facebook group to get updates and tune into the next livestream about cooperative workplaces.