It’s now coming up on two months since all four night shift workers at a Massachusetts cookie store decided that enough was enough, and they were going on strike.
Striker Jonathan Peña explained to Waging Nonviolence how: “Fed up with inadequate wages, long shifts without a break and no benefits, they timed the strike to begin with Insomnia’s midnight rush, causing maximum financial damage to the firm.”
Insomnia Cookies markets itself as providing for the late night cookie-based needs of partying students, and has more than thirty branches spread throughout the United States. Its busiest times are between midnight and 2:45 a.m. Niko Stapczynski, a striking driver at Insomnia, told the Industrial Worker: “I was being paid below minimum wage. We had no breaks because we were understaffed. Sometimes we’d work without breaks until 3:15 am. We were supposed to keep delivery time as fast as possible, which encouraged unsafe riding.”
All four workers were immediately fired for their industrial action, but the next day, they decided to join the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Boston IWW have since organised several pickets of the Cambridge store, and have helped the strikers file charges with the National Labor Relations Board and have charges pending with the Attorney General’s office. They are claiming they were paid “compensation below minimum wage”, were forced to work shifts longer than eight hours with no federally-mandated hour-long break, and with frequent expectations of working after clocking out. All of this would see Insomnia Cookies bosses in a lot of trouble if the laws were applied.
Their strikers are demanding reinstatement, the right to form a union without intimidation from management, a raise to $12 per hour and access to benefits, including health care. Due to the terrible exploitation levels within the company, Insomnia workers generally only last a month. But one of the Cambridge strikers is asking would-be resigners to not quit, but to strike when they decide that enough is enough!
Meanwhile, the Insomnia Workers Union and the Boston IWW General Membership Branch are currently asking supporters to sign an online petition pledging to boycott the company, or donate to the sacked workers’ campaign fund.