The Latest in Barista Activism

Photo: @coffeeatlarge

Employees at indi chocolate in Seattle staged a walkout on Monday, November 8. Coffee at Large shared on Instagram a letter, signed by nine indi chocolate employees, explaining why. In a statement directly addressed to Erin Andrews, the founder of the confections company, they write:

“Many avenues of communication were exhausted before we realized that a collective action would be the only way to insure our concerns were heard. We would like to address the lack of respect that the owner of indi chocolate has shown to the employees of this establishment. There have been multiple attempts to resolve these issues internally all attempts have been without results or improvement. We have decided to take a stand for our own health and safety.”

A few days later, Coffee at Large shared another account, stl.dial.in, which describes itself as “a platform for St. Louis coffee community to talk about work environments and their rights.”

Coffee at Large, based in Seattle, published a survey for baristas at various coffee companies to anonymously share their wages to create a safe place for discussion and advocacy. They weren’t the first ones to do so; since baristas in Philadelphia began crowdsourcing such information several months ago, groups in New York, the Bay Area, and other cities have also started sharing surveys. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, baristas make around $11.17, the national average rate. Protests, walkouts, and the rise of unions have been a result of the heightened awareness with the help of social media. Earlier this month, for example, many protested Seattle’s Caffé Vita.