NYC GDC Statement in Support of Tariq Khan

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

To the University of Illinois Office of Student Conflict Resolution ([email protected]), Assistant Dean of Students Rony Die ([email protected]), and Associate Dean of Students Justin Brown ([email protected]):

As an organization committed to defending members of the working class as they struggle for a more just world, we denounce, in the strongest possible terms, the Office of Student Conflict Resolution’s mind-boggling capitulation to the bigots waging a campaign of targeted harassment against Tariq Khan.

It is unconscionable that Khan is being disciplined by your office when his department and even the Champaign County Court have been able to see through the ruse of the right-wing outrage machine targeting him. Turning Point USA, the organization which Khan’s accuser belongs to, has a well-documented history of going after students, professors, and other faculty for their political beliefs, encouraging TPUSA members to mob their targets’ employers and schools with calls for dismissal and expulsion, while also harassing their targets personally through threatening calls, emails, and even stalking. After the amount of suffering that TPUSA has inflicted on Khan and his family, it is ludicrous for your office to top it off by threatening his education and livelihood.

Should your office be truly interested in supporting a safe and secure university environment, it should look into the well-documented history of TPUSA’s abuses and immediately suspend any disciplinary action against Khan, issue him and his family a formal apology, and commit to better protecting your community in the future.

In Solidarity with Tariq Khan,

The New York City General Defense Committee

February Newsletter

General Membership Branch (GMB) meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. Email [email protected] for location details.

Fellow Workers,

Welcome to the February edition of our e-newsletter! Feedback and collaboration are always encouraged. Simply reply to this email to learn how to get more involved in its production.

In addition to the events listed below, you can always check the Google Calendar of the NYC General Defense Committee (GDC) for more happenings. If you would like to submit radical events in and around New York City to the calendar, email details to


Every day at various times: We need Fellow Workers to participate in consumer education. Please email FW Frank if you would like to sign up for a shift.

Saturday, February 17 from 4 to 7 p.m.: Securing communications and information within your organizing efforts has never been more important. Join the NYC GDC for an information security training. Register for free here.

Saturday, February 17 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Enjoy FW Dorian Wallace's performance in the Precarious Sounds / Sounding Sanctuary conference at Silver Center Block (28 Waverly Place, Manhattan). Register for free here.

Sunday, February 18 from 12 to 6 p.m.: Join the NYC GDC for a second day of training — this time focusing on picketing and marshaling. Register for free here.

Saturday, February 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Join an IWW contingent in flyering at the People's Day of Action rally in Foley Square. Please email FW Ryan if you would like to participate.

Sunday, March 4 from 5 to 8 p.m.: The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), along with the Stop the Raids Coalition, is hosting their monthly Family Gathering Against the Raids. Come to the Bronx Social Center for letter-writing and hat-passing for desperately needed commissary money. Email [email protected] for more details.

Thursday, March 8 from 4 to 6 p.m.: Join an IWW contingent in flyering at the International Women's Strike rally in Washington Square Park. Please email FW Liss if you would like to participate.

Tuesday, March 13 at 7 p.m.: Attend the monthly meeting of the NYC IWW GMB. Watch this list for location details or email [email protected].

Monday, March 19 from 7:30 to 10 p.m.: Join the NYC GDC in viewing the next installment of Trouble, an anarchist documentary series, at Starr Bar (214 Starr Street, Brooklyn).

Friday, March 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, March 24 from 12 to 5 p.m.: Learn how to respond to widespread natural and man-made disasters with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief in this two-day training at The Base (1286 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn). Register for free here.


March 11 to 15: Fast alongside members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in the Freedom Fast in NYC. Sign up here.

Thursday, March 15 at 5 p.m.: Join the CIW for the Time's Up Wendy's March. Get more info here.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Join striking Spectrum workers at these locations around the city.


Mike Pesa, a longtime member of the IWW who currently belongs to the Baltimore GMB and previously belonged to the New York City GMB, needs our support. FW Mike’s wife, Heidi, a former kindergarten teacher, suffered a brain injury, and insurance will not cover the costs of her recovery. Read more about it here, and please donate here.


The branch has voted to collect dues online! You can pay dues in person or on our revamped website, which will be launching soon!

The IWW one-pager is officially complete — and it looks great! You can find the document here. Make copies at home, surreptitiously at work or at a unionized print shop, and distribute to help explain what the IWW is and what we do.

IWW Backyard BBQ and Direct Action Discussion – Saturday, AUG 27, 3 – 7pm

Join us at 113 Wilson Avenue in Brooklyn from 3  – 7PM, as we host a worker from the Burgerville Workers Union and workers from local campaigns in a discussion about their strategies and challenges in waging active direct action union campaigns, free of the NLRB. Enjoy the afternoon in a beautiful backyard where cheap beer and IWW merch will be for sale to fundraise for these important campaigns. Bring whatever you wish to throw on the grill!

IWOC Bike Ride fundraiser – Saturday, August 27 at 9:30 AM – 5 PM

Please bring yourself, a bike, snacks, plenty of water, and maybe a friend or two, for this 26 mile ride. We will start in the Bronx, and make our way north mostly via trails (paved and unpaved). Once we arrive in Ossining, we will explore a small exhibit in the town about Sing Sing and its use of prison labor, and then go to the outside of the prison itself for a short speakout. Then, we will eat together and some will ride the 26 miles back, while another group will take the metro north back to the city. Tickets for the metro north are $10 to $15, so plan accordingly. If the weather is particularly adverse on Saturday, we will ride Sunday. Please email:[email protected] for any questions or updates.

Also please bring $5-$15 dollars as a donation to IWOC towards helping build for the strike. NO ONE TURNED AWAY FOR LACK OF FUNDS.

Please Call at: (917) 715-7866 If you’re running late!!! Thanks!

Three Ways To Win Your IWW Campaign

By Daniel Gross

The IWW has made dramatic strides in the last decade, returning to its roots as an effective and transformative labor union. Unique campaigns in diverse industries have won important gains for workers and significantly influenced the broader labor movement. Still, the building of enduring worker-led and operated industrial unions, a founding mandate of our union, has not yet been fully realized.

With the IWW’s strong recent track record, unparalleled experience in rank-and-file organizing, and rich learnings from our work, we are positioned to get to the next level of building durable industrial unions to scale.

Here are three ways we can get to the next level:

1. Take a Step Back

Too many Wobbly campaigns start with a group of workers deciding they are going to talk to their co-workers and organize their shop. The idea is after the shop or chain is organized, they will then figure out how to organize the industry. This approach is not working because a shop is not a significant unit in our economy; industries are.

Instead of jumping right in to organize your shop, take a step back and look at your industry. Your job as an IWW organizer is to organize your shop, but more so, it is to co-found a successful industrial union of workers in your industry. Understand the industry, its workers, employers, customers, investors, supply chain, distribution, and so forth. Build a model to win in the industry, including at your job.

Once you have taken a step back you might decide that your industrial union building effort actually should start with organizing your shop or chain, and that is totally fine. You will have the roadmap to do it right and the mission’s clarity in that your ultimate project is to build an effective industrial union. On the other hand, you might decide on a totally different path into an industry that at the moment does not directly involve your employer. That is fine, too, as then you have just avoided years of misdirected effort.

It is completely understandable to want to get the ball rolling, fight injustice at your shop or company, and then figure out the bigger picture as you go. But, by taking a step back you will avoid the fate that has felled many Wobbly campaigns and instead, you will be investing in big, durable victories to come.

2. Get Clarity on Your Strategy

Many IWW campaigns have faltered for lack of a viable strategy or even a lack of any articulated strategy. We need to learn strategy-making in the IWW. Without finding a strategy that works for your industrial union building effort, the most courageous and hard-fought efforts will be beaten.

The two essential questions to formulate strategy are: where will we struggle and how will we win? “Where to struggle” means things like which industry, sector, geographic location, employers, or other stakeholders that will be our focus. “How to win” means the unique choices we make to achieve our winning objective in the field of struggle we have picked. These two strategy questions are adapted from the work of business school professor Roger Martin, which we modified in New York for use in worker organizations. A good way to start practicing with the “where to struggle” and “how to win” questions is to apply them to various worker organizing campaigns that you are familiar with, successful and unsuccessful, inside and outside the IWW.

More than anything, your strategy must assert the power you will need to win your demands. Asserting sufficient power is extremely difficult and will not come from generic formulations. Each industrial union effort will have to do its own thinking about this question. Differ-ent industries, sectors, workers, employers and geographies pose varied challenges and opportunities for power assertion. Always include secondary targets or influencers in your analysis. A common success factor for many worker organizing campaigns has been the ability to move those stakeholders.

Several IWW campaigns today have only an employer-level strategy, which is related to the need to step back, which I have discussed. Do not fall into that trap. The mission is to build an industrial union and that requires a cascade of strategies beyond your shop or employer.

Many industrial union building efforts will need an overall organizational strategy, an industry-level strategy, a sector-level strategy, and an employer-level strategy. You will answer the where to struggle and how to win question for each level. And each level is interrelated.

You should be able to write down the core of each strategy level in the ballpark of 25 words or less. This short statement will not replace a strategic plan; but, the best engines of power assertion are amenable to simple and brief articulation. It is much easier to remember and align a team of founding fellow workers around 25 words than it is 25 pages.

Scared you will assess and test several strategies but still choose the wrong path? You probably will. However, with a system for regular strategy reviews and the will to keep the struggle alive, you will adjust until you find the strategy that works. And adjust again if it stops working. With effective strategy-making, you and other workers will see big and game-changing results in IWW organizing.

3. Build a Model

A strategy to win is necessary but not sufficient to create an industrial union. In casual conversation, we often interchange strategy and model. We cannot afford to make that mistake in the high-stakes and incredibly difficult project of founding an industrial union. Strategy is a component of an organizational model. A model includes all of your organization’s fundamental building blocks and how they interlace.

Which set of workers in the industry will you and your fellow workers seek out first? What channels will you prioritize to reach those workers? How will leaders develop?

If you are able to successfully assert power, what mechanism will use to define and hold the gains you win? A collective bargaining agreement? A code of conduct with large brands? A non-contractual standard, which was for example IWW Local 8’s approach on the Philadelphia waterfront?

How will you tie the value created by the industrial union to being a member of the organization? How will you retain members? What will you measure to see if your vision is making progress in the messy world of reality?

These are some key questions that a model must seek to answer and test. Though interrelated with strategy, hopefully, it is clear they require their own thinking and formulation. It takes a complete model for an industrial union to win, scale and endure.

Like strategy, the model almost never works right off the bat and that is fine. The key is to dialogue, debate, and document your model as founding co-workers and to stay alive. You will refine the model as you go and even transform it dramatically if needed. When it does click you will change your industry and your workplace, and maybe even the labor movement and the world.

A member of the New York City IWW,  Daniel Gross founded the worker center Brandworkers and helped launch the  IWW Starbucks Workers Union while he was a barista at the company.

Work to Rule. Part 3

This is a re-post of an article by the same name also published on

Behind the Line

The day after Starbucks workers met at the Bat Cave we found ourselves working an understaffed morning shift but this time it was different. Instead of feeling the normal frustration, those of us who were at the meeting exchanged knowing glances and began implementing our plan of following every rule, thereby slowing down service. We also whispered to partners who were not in the know to slow down, don’t kill yourself. It was as if everyone took a deep breath and began working at a safe and thorough pace. The effects were instant. The speed of service dropped immediately. We ran out of brewed coffee because we were only brewing when the beeper signaled it was time. Everyone stayed in the positions they were assigned and acted only at the directions of the Store Manager. Every 10 minutes when someone was assigned to clean the lobby, we did a thorough job, ensuring everything was clean and properly stocked. Every drink and food order was perfect.

Dan, the Store Manager, lost his mind. He was running around like a crazed man. It was the most any of us had ever seen him work. The best part was he couldn’t get mad at us, not only were we doing our jobs but we were doing them exactly as we should. Each drink was made perfectly, every pastry was cooked one at a time on the correct oven setting, and each cleaning task was done exactly as it should be. We continued to do this all week. We found ourselves giggling and sharing secret exchanges of encouragement. It was common to hear “wow, look Dan is working today! Now he knows what we go through every day”. We were working as a team instead of blaming each other for a situation that none of us could control. Meanwhile, partners were calling Partner Resources. Everyone called the hotline number, with the exception of two baristas and two supervisors. We all stuck to the issues we came up with in the initial meeting, with the hope that our calls would tell a consistent story.

Nothing seemed to be happening but at least we felt in control. We felt like we were doing something to make our jobs and our lives better rather than hoping things would change. These were our jobs, our store and our customers, without us there would be no Starbucks. Our ability to slow down the rate of business reinforced this fact.

A week after we started our work to rule and coordinated contacts to Partner Resources we saw the results. An investigation was launched into our store. Dan’s bosses were in our store every day. Interestingly enough the investigation was not the result of our phone calls and complaints but because we had cut business in the store by over $10,000 that week by slowing down. Dan’s bosses were furious at the loss of business. They watched as every 5th customer left the store because the line was too long and slow moving. When baristas were asked why this was happening we all replied, “we are understaffed. We need between 7 to 9 people to do our jobs well and keep customers happy”. The next weeks schedule had already been printed but suddenly Dan was asking everyone if they want more hours. He added at least two people to every shift. After that we always had enough people scheduled to do our jobs right. Dan now knew what would happen if we were understaffed and he knew the loss of business we could cause him would likely affect his future at the company.

Sadly, we were not able to get Dan removed as a Store Manager, he continues to make our lives a living hell. However, the power we felt that week will not be forgotten. The ties of solidarity amongst those involved in the planning and implementation will be long lasting. We all tasted what it would be like to have control over our jobs and that can never be taken away.

Addendum: Almost exactly a year from his first day at our store, Dan was removed from his position as Store Manager. Of the 21 people who participated in actions to remove him, 7 baristas had transferred, 4 were fired, and 8 quit.

Read Part 1: The Match That Started the Fire.
Read Part 2: The Bat Cave.

Look for The Truth About the Million Dollar Coffee Company by FW Lyssa coming Wednesday May 7th.

FW Sarah
Starbucks Workers Union

Work to Rule. Part 2

This is a re-post of an article by the same name also published on

The Bat Cave

Word of our Starbucks Store Manager, Dan, throwing a binder at an employee spread through the store like wild fire. Everyone was furious. We have tolerated inconsistent scheduling, low wages, on going verbal abuse and much more, this, however, was the last straw. We decided it was time to meet up. Enrico- a 61 year old Puerto Rican busser, Anna-a 25 year old Puerto Rican woman, Gabrielle-a 19 year old Jamaican nursing student, Alejandro- a 22 year old Dominican, Sam-a 23 year old Columbian, Thomas-a 27 year old Texan and I, a 28 year old woman from Kansas decided to meet up Tuesday after our morning shift and figure out a way to fix the problems in the store. We met at a bar down the street from work. The spot has dozens of empty pool tables and cheap drinks before 7pm, which is perfect for a group of people who are all up at 3 or 4am for work. We started frequenting this spot as a place to go and vent about work. The bartenders are all very nice and often look the other way if we don’t order any drinks and just hang out on the overstuffed couch for an hour or two after a rough shift. We started calling our spot “the Bat Cave” as we secretly spoke about ways we could take back power at work and make our jobs better. Today at the Bat Cave we pulled two tables together and Gabrielle took notes. We all decided we had had enough and it was time to take action. The group came to the conclusion to use two tactics at the same time to pressure Starbucks to fire or transfer Dan but also to immediately resolve the issue of being understaffed.

To implement the first tactic, we came up with a list of issues we had with Dan (See appendix for complete list). We decided to call Partner Resources, a third party phone line that is supposed to resolve issues that affect baristas. We thought, somewhat naively, that if everyone in the store called over the next week they would have to listen to our issues and investigate. Gabrielle diligently wrote up our grievances and offered to email them out to everyone who was at the meeting. We gathered email addresses, but most importantly we came up with a list of other people in the store who would likely be interested in contacting Partner Resources with us. We divided up the list of people, so everyone at the meeting was responsible for telling a coworker about our plan. Gabrielle also drove home the fact that we should keep this secret and not talk about anything while at work. In addition, we decided to make our calls anonymously, no matter how much we were pressured to reveal our identities. We all knew that if word of our plan were to leak out we would be subjected to cut hours or write-ups, which would affect our already small raises.

Our second tactic was designed to address immediately the issue of understaffing. We were working ourselves to death under Dan’s reign. Our store is so big that we should always have 7-9 people scheduled to work the morning rush. Lately we have had as few as 3 and an average of only 5 people working. The result of this cost cutting measure was that the customer line reached out the door, customers were mad that service was taking so long, baristas were getting cussed at and verbally abused, we were constantly burning and cutting themselves because we were moving so fast, we often put ourselves in dangerous situations to save time, for example climbing on counters to reach supplies because it takes too long to grab the ladder, and new untrained baristas who due to the lack of training messed up orders. It was during our meeting at the Bat Cave that we decided as a group to not kill ourselves anymore for a company that did not have our best interest at heart. We decided if we were going to be arbitrarily yelled at for taking shortcuts to speed up service, we would stop. From this point on we would follow every single rule. This meant getting customer names and spelling them correctly, making each drink using the method Starbucks created-rather than the short cuts every good barista learns, we brewed coffee in a particular order according to a beeper rather than keeping an eye on things so we don’t run out of fresh coffee. We would leave the floor to change rags every two hours instead of when there is a lull in the rush and every 10 minutes someone would leave the floor to clean the lobby.

We adjourned the meeting feeling empowered and optimistic. We would no longer be working for a low-wage; instead we were working to rule.

Read Part 1: The Match That Started the Fire.
Read Part 3: Behind the Line.

FW Sarah
Starbucks Workers Union 

Starbucks Jargon


someone who makes drinks, cleans bathrooms and the store, cashier, and stocks supplies.


someone who cleans and restocks items. Starbucks has almost entirely removed this position from the company, forcing baristas to take turns cleaning and stocking while they are serving the customers.

Shift Supervisor or Shift:

often called a barista who counts money. They run the floor and let baristas know when they can take a break and where they should be working. They also order more supplies, count money for the registers, and handle “situations” or rowdy customers as needed.

Assistant Store Manager:

Does many of the same tasks as the Store Manager and acts as their assistant in running the store. They also do the job of a barista during their shifts.

Store Manager:

Is in charge of scheduling, ordering, implementing new promotions. They should also be on the floor helping baristas when we are busy.

Floor or back line:

the area where we make drinks and serve the customers.

Back room:

where extra products are stored and we take our breaks.

Issues we have with Dan

  • Won’t allow switching of shifts. Plays favorites and lets his favorites switch shifts
  • Schedules himself on the floor but isn’t on the floor.
  • Says that we have to leave before our scheduled end time, resulting in lost pay.
  • Consistently under staffs our store, Sunday’s in particular. No pre-closer, no mid-shift supervisor.
  • Disrespectful to partners. Threw the schedule binder. Partner was ill and was going to call out but came into work. Was feeling so dizzy had to step off the floor and fell forward. Dan told her to sit down and got another partner to get her water. She went back on the floor and said she would stay on the floor as long as possible. Was on register for another two hours. Then she went to the back to asks to go home because she isn’t feeling better. Threw the binder towards her after she asked. Anna was so upset she picked up the binder and clocked out and walked off the floor.
  • When partners request days off they are scheduled anyways and then pressures into working.
  • Holding back tips from employees.
  • Dan leaves early, takes extra breaks, and stays on break longer than allotted.
  • Threatened to cut partner hours unless she did unscheduled overtime.
  • Had a supervisor create a false statement about a partner being insubordinate. Resulted in a write up.
  • He said he has the authority to check bags and lockers while partners are working.
  • A partner found a deposit slip in the trash. Which is against Store Manager protocol
  • A partner called out and was written up for a no call no show. Falsifying reports.
  • Targeting partners on tattoos when others have visible tattoos and dyed hair.
  • Targeting some partners for being out of uniform.
  • Condoning malicious treatment by a supervisor toward partners
  • Allowing repeated break violations by a supervisor.
  • Planting non-purchased items in employees bags to endanger items.
  • Asking partners to quit
  • Manager says he has the authority over our availability sheet. Letting us know when we can and cannot work.
  • Refused to give a partner a schedule change request form.
  • Starting rumors that threaten partner’s security.
  • Partners feel that their jobs are constantly in jeopardy.
  • Partners are being unfairly monitored to be written up.
  • Store manager mark outs food and eats it then yells at partners for throwing the food away when it is damaged as we are required to do.

Work to Rule. Part 1

This is a re-post of an article by the same name also published on

The Match That Started the Fire

Weekends are notoriously crazy for a Starbucks barista. These are the days when people have time to vent their frustrations from the previous workweek on some unsuspecting worker. Customers come in with their screaming children, busloads of tourists struggle to understand why a small drink would be called “tall”, and the stores themselves are almost always understaffed to handle the demand. It is therefore fitting that it was Sunday when an event triggered Starbucks baristas to engage in a clever power play to make work conditions better.

Anna, also lovingly known as Momma Bear for her fiercely protective attitude, is originally from Florida. She told me her story once as we walked around the neighborhood where we work; the abuse she endured at home, the rape that resulted in the birth of her son, bullying at the hands of other girls at school, and the death of her best friend. Anna has been a Starbucks barista for the last three years. She likes the job because her coworkers are nice and show her respect. She knows almost every customer who comes into our high volume store and sometimes even decorates his or her cup with hand drawn pictures. Anna’s ability to work often suffers from chronic health issues. I have worked shifts where she leaves the floor to cough-up blood. The intensity of the work we do when we are understaffed amplified by other environmental factors that come from being poor and living in the projects, causes her to fall ill and catch every cold and virus that she comes into contact with.

This particular Sunday, Anna needed to leave early due to illness. She had already worked shifts sick that week, but today she just couldn’t do it. She knew that she wouldn’t be paid for the hours she took off and risked losing her health care benefits by falling short of the hours required to qualify. Anna walked into the back room where our Store Manager was sitting to make a much-needed request.

Our Store Manager, Dan, transfer to our store four months before. We all gave him a chance to pull things together. As previously mentioned, our store is very high volume. It is common for us to serve 100 customers in a half hour and pull in $10,000 in coffee sales before 10am. Dan was in over his head, he struggled to make a single drink and if he was on the floor for more than 30 minutes he would be covered in sweat. He was scattered, barking orders that caused confusion, and refused to take advice from the many baristas who had worked in our store for over five years. The result was mass confusion, low morale and being subjected to humiliating comments from frustrated customers. Dan played favorites and if you questioned his decisions you had your hours cut or were transferred to another store. Anna knew that she jeopardized more than just that day’s pay when she made her way to the back room to ask to go home ill. But she never expected what would happen next. Anna timidly approached Dan while he was sitting at his desk pretending to check the product order forms that will nonetheless be incorrect. Not even turning to acknowledge Anna while she is explaining how she almost fainted, Anna finally made her request. The words “I need to go home” triggered Dan. For a man who never moves fast, Dan spun around at the speed of light and in his frustration flung a 3″ metal ringed binder full of paper at Anna while barking “are you really that sick?” Anna was speechless, so stunned at this childish aggression, she backed away. Retreating to the backline where the rest of us continued to work, we all agreed that she should just clock out and go home. Dan was completely out of line.

Read Part 2: The Bat Cave.
Read Part 3: Behind the Line.

FW Sarah
Starbucks Workers Union 

Starbucks Jargon


someone who makes drinks, cleans bathrooms and the store, cashier, and stocks supplies.


someone who cleans and restocks items. Starbucks has almost entirely removed this position from the company, forcing baristas to take turns cleaning and stocking while they are serving the customers.

Shift Supervisor or Shift:

often called a barista who counts money. They run the floor and let baristas know when they can take a break and where they should be working. They also order more supplies, count money for the registers, and handle “situations” or rowdy customers as needed.

Assistant Store Manager:

Does many of the same tasks as the Store Manager and acts as their assistant in running the store. They also do the job of a barista during their shifts.

Store Manager:

Is in charge of scheduling, ordering, implementing new promotions. They should also be on the floor helping baristas when we are busy.

Floor or back line:

the area where we make drinks and serve the customers.

Back room:

where extra products are stored and we take our breaks.