Monday, April 1, 2013
The unlawful termination of Deirdre Cunningham came on the heels of an organizing campaign that resulted in the majority of Star Ticket workers voting in favor of having a union.
This was just the beginning of an effort to challenge Star Tickets owner Jack Krasula and his anti-union tactics. The IWW stated that they planned to continue having rallies, do fundraising for Deirdre and engage in other tactics to pressure the company to reinstate their fellow worker.
People are encouraged to check the IWW Star Tickets Worker Union Facebook page for updates and continue to flood Jack Krasula with phones calls, calling for the reinstatement of Deirdre Cunningham.
Jack Krasula Phone – 248-945-1127
We also had a chance to talk with Deirdre Cunningham on tape, which is followed by IWW organizer Cole Dorsey talking about the union’s reaction to Deirdre’s firing.
Star Tickets employee files unfair labor charge, claims she was fired for union organizing
Deirdre Cunningham filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board office in Grand Rapids on March 27, a day after she was allegedly fired from her job as a client service representative with Star Tickets.
Cunningham was instrumental in helping organize employees at the national ticketing agency’s Grand Rapids office into a bargaining unit that was certified by the NLRB on March 25. The certification followed a vote to unionize with the Industrial Workers of the World on March 6.
On Jan. 23, the I.W.W. filed paperwork with the NLRB to create a bargaining unit at the call center. Calling the work environment “untenable,” the union said employees were demanding a reduction in workload and a grievance procedure.
Of the 13 eligible employees, seven voted for representation, and six voted against. One challenged ballot was ultimately disregarded by both parties, according to the NLRB.
Cunningham said she was personally fired by Star Tickets CEO Jack Krasula on March 26, the day after the union was certified.
“He told me, basically, that I have a bad attitude,” she said. “I’ve been questioning the way things have been done and trying to fight for less to do.” In January, Cunningham told MLive that “over the years, more and more has been added to our roles without any additional compensation.”
Cunningham claims to have had “mostly stellar reviews” during her years with Star Tickets and said “they had no issue with me before the union.”
A message left with Krasula, who is also founder of the Southfield executive search firm Trustinus, was not immediately returned.
About 11 people gathered outside the Star Tickets office at 620 Century Ave. SW on Monday, April 1 to protest Cunningham’s termination.
Tom Good, resident officer at the NLRB in Grand Rapids said the unfair labor practice charge filing has triggered an investigation that will last a couple weeks.
Good said that if the investigation determines that Cunningham has a case, the NLRB will try and settle the issue by seeking reinstatement and back pay. If some kind of settlement cannot be worked out, the NLRB may issue a complaint ahead of scheduling a hearing before an administrative law judge in Grand Rapids.
That judge’s decision could be appealed by either party to the NLRB in Washington D.C.
The NLRB can only seek remedies, not punitive measures, said Good. “We try to turn back the clock to undo any financial harm and ensure other employees know what their rights are.”
Good said that “it’s not unheard of” for employers to terminate employees for union organization efforts.
Michigan’s new right-to-work law, which took effect March 28, has no direct bearing on the case because the new law doesn’t directly affect the union organizing or election process, said Good.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Industrial Workers of the World - Grand Rapids
March 31, 2013
Who: Industrial Workers of the World labor union and supporters.
What: Picket against unlawful termination of union member.
Where: Star Tickets - 600 Century Ave. Suite 300, Grand Rapids MI
When: Monday, April 1 12:00 pm.
Why: The workers of Star Tickets have been forced to endure a vicious union-busting campaign. Despite owner Jack Krasula's best efforts the workers won the election and bargaining rights through their union the IWW Star Tickets Workers Union. Instead of accepting the collective affirmation of union representation from his workers Krasula has continued his relentless anti-union campaign. On the day the union was certified by the National Labor Relations Board outspoken union organizer, Deirdre Cunningham, was fired in retaliation for her efforts on behalf of the IWW. The union and supporters are demanding her reinstatement.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
For the past month, we have been reporting on an effort by Star Tickets workers in Grand Rapids to form a union, as management has engaged in an increasing amount of labor abuses in recent years.
As was expected, the owner of the company responded with threats and business propaganda, which included misinformation and outright lies about the union efforts and the IWW.
Despite these efforts, on Wednesday, workers at the Star Tickets Call Center voted in favor of a union. We received a copy of a Media Release from the Star Tickets Workers Union, which reads in part:
While new Right to Work legislation has forced labor into retreat across Michigan, Grand Rapids workers made a rare advance Wednesday under the banner of the radical Industrial Workers of the World as employees of Star Tickets voted for unionization. The victorious union vote comes on the heels of a relentless anti-union campaign waged by owner Jack Krasula and an outside firm he retained.
Dubbed the IWW Star Tickets Workers Union employees came together over meager demands such as: adequate equipment, an end to understaffing, and a yearly pay evaluation.
“Our demands aim not only to benefit our workplace environment, but to improve our services to our valued clients as well.” said Deirdre Cunningham a Client Services Representative.
Since the petition was filed owner Jack Krasula has responded by spending thousands of dollars to thwart his employees efforts. Workers have had to endure veiled threats, intimidation, and misinformation in a textbook anti-union campaign. Despite Krasula’s best efforts the workers unity has remained solid with flowers, candy, and best wishes sent from IWW branches and members from across the country.
The vote came just two days after a solidarity rally was held outside the Star Tickets building on Monday, where other IWW members and community supporters came out to send a message to the company that the Star Tickets workers had a right to form a union and create a democratic workplace.
Indeed, for weeks people have been showing their support with messages and gifts. People from other IWW chapters across the country and around the globe were sending messages of solidarity to their fellow workers in Grand Rapids.
“What Mr. Krasula and this outside firm fail to realize is that when they disparage our efforts to organize with their barrage of memos they are disparaging their workers that have given years of their lives to make this company successful. We hope this is not how they intend on bargaining but either way we will continue to succeed with our solidarity and our union,” said Evelyn Stone a Call Service Representative.
The Industrial Workers of the World is a rank-and-file labor union open to all workers. Gaining prominence for the Starbucks Workers Union and the Jimmy Johns Workers Union the IWW has become the go-to union for workers not interested in the bureaucracy of traditional unions.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Monday March 4, 2013
Who: Grand Rapid IWW, local workers, social justice activists.
Why: The workers of Star Tickets in Grand Rapids have filed a petition to be recognized as an IWW Union. The boss, Jack Krasula, has responded with a ruthless anti-union campaign. The union election is Wednesday March 6.
What: Solidarity rally for Star Tickets workers legal right to form a union, and an end to the anti-union campaign.
When: Monday March 4, 7:45AM.
Where: 620 Century Ave. SW, Suite#300 Grand Rapids, MI
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Sunday, July 29, 2012
One thing we were all reminded of with the onset of the Occupy Movement was the glaring disparity between the rich and the rest of us.
This writer was reminded of that disparity yesterday, while attending Day 10 of a strike being held by the workers at Grand Rapids Gravel.
Members of the Teamsters Local 406 are on strike because the company owner was demanding a $6.00 an hour pay cut from his workforce. In talking to a 17-year employee and Teamster member, we discovered that the last time the workers received a raise was in 2000, and the raise was just 50 cents. This means that it has been 12 years since the workers have received any kind of raise and yet they are being asked to take a $6.00 an hour pay cut.
The strike rally was being held yesterday across the street from a golf course, one that the owner of Grand Rapids Gravel Andy Dykema owns. The plush golf course is not all that he owns in addition to the gravel company. According to Teamster member Bill Steckling, Dykema also owns this large condo project near the golf course.
To illustrate the absurd level of wealth that Dykema possesses, another member of the Teamsters told a story while those on strike gathered to share information. The Teamster members said that one day Dykema was out near his property and he and one of his constituents were looking around. Dykema then says to the man, “that sure is a nice piece of property. We should own it.” The constituent responded by saying, “You already own it.”
When Dykema demanded that the workers take a $6.00 an hour pay cut, the union met and they did agree to take a $3.26 per hour pay cut, but the boss responded that it was $6.00 and nothing less. Disgusted with the owner’s unwillingness to compromise, the workers called for a strike.
Bill Steckling then told us that the company hired a strike breaking lawyer, who has brought in Pinkerton Guards to protect the company’s property and is working with what they believe is an Illinois firm that is hiring scab workers from out of state to replace the workers on strike. No one at this point has been able to identify the Illinois firm nor where the workers are coming from.
About 80 people made up of striking workers, family members and people from the community, came out yesterday to show solidarity for the workers on strike. The group was picketing across the street from the Dykema-owned golf course with signs, banners and a Teamster semi-trailer.
After hours of picketing, the group then gathered to hear a few speakers discuss the campaign. One Teamster member said that there was already support from other unions, like the UAW, SEIU, the local labor council and the IWW. After the speakers, everyone was invited to share some food that had been prepared, which allowed people more time to talk informally and build solidarity.
IWW members Deirdre Cunningham said of the strike, “It was important for me to come out today and stand with the striking workers in strength & solidarity. It takes a lot of courage to sign up for such uncertainty as a strike, and people need to see the support of friends, the network of shared resources available to them, to continue to stand strong for what we know is right.”
Cole Dorsey, also a member of the IWW and a labor organizer added, “The Grand Rapids IWW has a good relationship with the Teamsters local 406. Regardless of this we would have joined them in solidarity because we feel workers in struggle anywhere is an issue for workers everywhere. We joined them on the picket line today and will continue to do so until they win. One of our mottos is “the longer the picket line the shorter the strike.”
The Teamsters welcome any kind of support that people can offer, particularly the kind of solidarity by showing up and standing with them in their strike against greed. Go to this link to find the various locations where the workers are on strike and have a presence.
We also spoke with Teamster organizer Craig Salzwedel yesterday on camera. Here is the brief interview we did with Craig where he talks about the strike and the issues the union has with the company.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Bartertown Diner is in the competition for the best sandwich in Grand Rapids. The Grandwich.
Bartertown Diner is the revolutionary restaurant collectively run by IWW union members that is turning Grand Rapids upside down. When many thought they would fail, and some prayed that they did, these tough-as-nails survivors persevered and continue to succeed.
Hardened from years of busting their asses in restaurants for little pay and even less respect they decided to show how it can and should be done! Instead of just joining the "local first" bandwagon they made a commitment from the first day that Bartertown would be different in every way. Despite not having a boss they elected to join with their fellow workers in the Industrial Workers of the World labor union. With this defining act of solidarity they affirmed their desire to raise the standards across the whole industry! The establishment is run collectively by all the workers and pay is equitable. Its time to spread Bartertown's achievements to all restaurant workers!
Bartertown Diner is the only true farm-to-table restaurant in Grand Rapids. They have a working relationship with Hamm Family Farms and menu options sometimes have to change due to the availability of produce. This practice alone is unheard of in any other restaurant where the most important thing is making a profit. The most 'successful' downtown restaurants are the ones that get the cheapest wholesale food to serve and pay their workers the least amount that they will take.
While other downtown restaurants get big publicity for finally getting a recycling program Bartertown Diner goes weeks with zero trash!
Grand Rapids restaurant owners are terrified of the Diner's success. What if my workers realize I need them they don't need me? What if they demand more than $8 an hour? What if they all join together?
The Diner recently celebrated its one year anniversary and shows no signs of slowing down. The best in gourmet, raw, vegan/vegetarian food continues to be made and served by the dedicated wobblies of Bartertown Diner.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
The film will show:
On May 17, 2012
At the IATSE LABOR HALL.
931 Bridge ST. NWGrand Rapids, MI. 49504
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Grand Rapids - For the last 2 years the closest Saturday to May 1st MLK Park has been reserved for a community celebration. Hundreds of people have come to the park for food, entertainment, and resources to organize for a better Grand Rapids and society. This year the celebration will take place April 28th at Martin Luther King Jr. Park from 12 noon to 8pm.
* A diverse group of acts from poets to hip hop to rock are scheduled.
* There will be a community potluck from 12-2 with Bartertown Diner and Food Not Bombs (Grand Rapids) participating as well.
* Grand Rapids Really, Really Free Market will be at the park where people can give and take items at no cost.
* The local group, Stop Targeting Our Kids (STOK) will offer activities for children and in between performers, resources for working people will be offered by other participating organizations.
International Workers Day May 1 (May Day) is a holiday celebrated around the world in remembrance of the Haymarket Martyrs and the fight for the 8 hour day. May 1st marks the 126th anniversary of International Workers Day. The origins of International Workers’ Day go back to 1886. Hundreds of thousands of workers across the United States went on strike. In Grand Rapids, 7,000 furniture workers of the Knights of Labor left their workplaces for an impromptu march. Workers demanded that their 10- and 12-hour work days be shortened to an 8-hour day with no reduction in pay. Over the next few years, thousands of workers won the 8-hour workday that many of us still enjoy today. The memory of the Martyrs, and the struggle that they died for is what continues to bring hundreds of thousands of workers into the streets, around the world every May 1.
This years event has seen an increase in local organization’s participation. Participating organizations include: Our Kitchen Table, The LGBT Network of West Michigan, The Bloom Collective, Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy, Move To Amend, DecriminalizeGR.
“As workers generally and Grand Rapids workers specifically we are glad to join our community again this year in celebration of our achievements as well as for what we can do to build a better place for all of us, the workers, the 99%”, said Onya Jackson IWW member and chef at vegan/vegetarian restaurant Bartertown Diner. The IWW will unveil an organizing campaign that may affect ArtPrize.
The Industrial Workers of the World is a rank-and-file labor union open to all workers.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
THIS MONTH THE IWW WILL BE SHOWING THE FILM JUST DO IT! A TALE OF MODERN-DAY OUTLAWS. A DOCUMENTARY FILM BY EMILY JAMES. THE FILM JUST DO IT LIFTS THE LID ON CLIMATE ACTIVISM AND THE DARING TROUBLEMAKERS WHO HAVE CROSSED THE LINE TO BECOME MODERN DAY OUTLAWS. DOCUMENTED OVER A YEAR, EMILY JAMES’ FILM FOLLOWS THESE ACTIVISTS AS THEY BLOCADE FACTORIES, ATTACK COAL POWER STATIONS AND GLUE THEMSELVES TO THE FLOORS OF INTERNATIONAL BANKS DESPITE THE VERY REAL THREAT OF ARREST. JUST DO IT IS AN INDEPENDENTLY PRODUCED FILM MADE POSSIBLE BY OVER 100 VOLUNTEERS AND CROWD FUNDERS. THE FILM IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. A DISSCUSSION WILL FOLLOW.
THIS FILM IS BEING COSPONSERED BY THE BLOOM COLLECTIVE.
FILM SHOWING IS:
APRIL 19, 2012 7:00PM
AT THE IATSE LABOR HALL
931 BRIDGE ST. NW
GRAND RAPIDS, MI. 49504.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Grand Rapids, MI - Local worker-run, union affiliated gourmet restaurant will be opening its doors for a special event Tuesday, March 13 at 7 and 9 pm. Bartertown chefs will be creating a special 3 course meal while IWW members serve costumers. The event is a benefit to raise funds for the 3rd annual MayDay Celebration in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Dinners are $25 per person and can be acquired from the IWW or at Bartertown Diner, 6 Jefferson St.
For the last 2 years the closest Saturday to May 1st MLK Park has been reserved for a community celebration. Hundreds of people from the community have come to the park for food, entertainment, and resources to organize for a better Grand Rapids and society. This year the celebration will take place April 28th at Martin Luther King Jr. Park from 12 noon to 8 pm. There will be a diverse group of acts from solo to rap to rock. There will continue to be a community potluck from 12-2 and food provided by Food Not Bombs and Bartertown Diner. This year will also see another Really, Really Free Market at the park where people can give and take items at no cost. Money from the benefit dinner will go to securing the park, insurance, and a sound system for the celebration.
International Workers Day May 1 (May Day) is a holiday celebrated around the world in remembrance of the Haymarket Martyrs and the fight for the 8 hour day. MayDay actions continue today in the belief being that the great working class upsurge that brought sweeping changes to labor in the last century is whats needed now in this century.
“At $25 per person people have the opportunity to enjoy a great meal by amazing, IWW chefs while at the same time contributing to building a tradition of community celebrations at MLK Park for May Day,” said Alisa Stone Secretary-Treasurer of the Grand Rapids Branch.
Tickets can be purchased at:
Bartertown Diner - 6 Jefferson St. (616) 233-3219
Grand Rapids IWW - (616)881-5263
Gaining prominence in recent years for organizing Starbucks workers, the Industrial Workers of the World is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people.
Grand Rapids, MI - For the last 2 years the closest Saturday to May 1st Martin Luther King Jr. Park, in Grand Rapids, has been reserved for a community celebration. Hundreds of people from the community have come to the park for food, entertainment, and resources to organize for a better Grand Rapids and society. This year the celebration will take place April 28th at Martin Luther King Jr. Park from 12 noon to 8 pm. There will be a diverse group of acts from solo to rap to rock and local poets performing. There will continue to be a community potluck from 12-2 and food provided by Food Not Bombs and Bartertown Diner. As well, members of Stop Targeting Our Kids (STOK) will continue to provide some activities for children such as face painting and other artistic expression projects. This year will also see another Really, Really Free Market at the park where people can give and take items at no cost. Speakers and resources will be available on issues such as lgbt rights, immigrant rights, workplace organizing, and more.
International Workers Day May 1 (May Day) is a holiday celebrated around the world in remembrance of the Haymarket Martyrs and the fight for the 8 hour day. The origins of International Workers’ Day go back to 1886. When hundreds of thousands of workers across the United States went on strike. In Grand Rapids, 7,000 furniture workers of the Knights of Labor left their workplaces for an impromptu march . Workers demanded that their 10- and 12-hour work days be shortened to an 8-hour day with no reduction in pay. Over the next few years, thousands of workers won the 8-hour workday that many of us still enjoy today.
Gaining prominence in recent years for organizing Starbucks workers, the Industrial Workers of the World is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people.
If your a poet or a musical act and would like to perform contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-881-5263
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
This month the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), the Bloom Collective and Occupy Grand Rapids are co-sponsoring the showing of the film "Freedom Riders: Could You Get On The Buss?"
In 1961, segregation seemed to have an overwhelming grip on American society. Many states violently enforced the policy, while the federal government, under the Kennedy administration, remained indifferent, preoccupied with matters abroad. That is, until an integrated band of college students-many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university-decided, en masse, to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders and they managed to bring the president and the entire American public face to face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation.
Veteran filmmaker Stanley Nelson's inspirational documentary is the first feature-length film about this courageous band of civil-rights activists. Gaining impressive access to influential figures on both sides of the issue. Nelson chronicles a chapter of American history that stands as an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth and what can result from the incredible combination of personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds.
This event is free and open to the public. A discussion will follow.
Friday, January 6, 2012
January 19. It will be at 6:00PM at the IATSE Labor Hall.
931 Bridge ST on the North West side.
The film is "Land and Freedom."
It is about a young man from Great Britain who goes to Spain in the 1930's to help the Democratically elected government fight the Fascists who were trying to overthrow it. The Fascists were lead by Franco who was backed by Hitler and Mussolini. It is a very good film that won a couple of awards when it came out in 1995. It is also a love story! A discussion will follow.