Gimme Coffee Baristas Unanimously Ratify First Union Contract

(Ithaca) Gimme! Coffee baristas unanimously voted to ratify their first union contract with Gimme! Management, the culmination of seven months of negotiations. The union covers baristas at Gimme! Coffee locations in Ithaca on State and Cayuga streets, at Gates Hall on the Cornell Campus, and in Trumansburg.

The Gimme! Coffee union campaign was led by an organizing committee and negotiating committee

Gimme! Baristas meeting prior to NLRB- election

of Gimme! baristas. This effort has been supported by a unique partnership between the Tompkins County Workers’ Center and Workers United which has its regional headquarters in Rochester.

Says Gimme! Coffee Barista Samantha Mason: ” 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.” (See Statement from Gimme! Coffee Baristas Upon Ratification of Contract.)

The goal of this partnership is to organize hospitality workers across Tompkins County into a union to raise living standards and improve working conditions.  The Workers’ Center is committed to ensuring through community support that Tompkins County workers have the right to organize a union free of employer interference and intimidation.

A few highlights of the contract are:

  • A union “just cause” clause that protects workers from unfair discipline or discharge;
  • A union grievance and arbitration procedure to resolve any workplace problems;
  • Wage increases;
  • Establishment of a paid sick day program;
  • Monthly joint labor/management meetings.

Kevin Cuddeback, Owner and CEO of Gimme! Coffee 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.”

Pete Meyers, Coordinator of the Tompkins County Workers Center, issued the following statement: “We’re very happy for the Gimme! Coffee baristas of Workers’ United local 2833 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. We praise the management of Gimme! Coffee and its owner, Kevin Cuddeback, for responsibly being neutral towards the baristas’ desire to organize a union in their workplace, and for their good faith efforts in the negotiation process.”

Gary Bonadonna, Jr:, Manager of the upstate NY union, Workers United stated:  “I would like to salute the Gimme! Coffee baristas for the dedication and hard work they put in to organize their union and negotiate an initial union contract. They are an inspirational group. If as a society we truly want to address the issue of economic inequality, then the Gimme! workers offer part of the solution which is to organize more unions. Too often workers in this country who want to organize a union to make improvements on their job have to walk through a minefield of threats and intimidation by their employer. I want to recognize Gimme! Coffee management for not going down that road.  My hope is that other employers in Tompkins County will follow this more ethical path.”

Restaurant workers interested in organizing a union should contact the TCWC at 607-269-0409.