DIA stops selling Great Lakes Coffee amid barista strike

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click to enlarge The Detroit Institute of Arts - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
The Detroit Institute of Arts

The food services provider for the Detroit Institute of Arts will stop selling coffee from the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co. in solidarity with striking baristas and cooks.

Twenty employees of the local coffee chain have been on strike since Feb. 16 to demand better wages and insurance, COVID-19 protocols, and anti-discrimination protections.

The DIA’s food service provider, Culinaire, decided to use a new coffee vendor beginning Tuesday.

The striking workers, who go by “Comrades in Coffee,” said they hope other institutions follow.

“On behalf of the twenty ‘Comrades in Coffee’ fighting for a better industry at Great Lakes Coffee and across Metro Detroit coffee shops — we want to say thank you to the Detroit Institute of Arts for showing solidarity with our fight and agreeing to switch coffee vendors,” they said in a statement Monday. “Walking into the beautiful DIA, one of the first works you notice is the legendary Diego Rivera mural — an homage to the working class. The DIA made a courageous and important decision to support our fight, positioning the art museum on the right side of history as we proudly carry on the spirit of Detroit represented in Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals as modern-day workers organizing for a bigger and better labor movement. We hope other key Metro Detroit institutions such as the Detroit Zoo opt to make the right decision alongside the DIA today and join our growing movement.”

UNITE HERE Local 24 filed an unfair labor practices charge against Great Lakes Coffee on behalf of the striking workers on Feb. 25, alleging the company failed to recognize and engage in “good faith collective bargaining."

The striking workers are using Local 24 as their designated bargaining representative.

The striking workers filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board on March 16.

They are demanding a fair contract that includes union representation; a starting wage of at least $15 per hour; COVID-19 protocols; anti-harassment and anti-discrimination protections; affordable health, dental, and vision insurance; and paid time off, including sick days and parental leave.

In January, Great Lakes Coffee’s shop in Midtown closed after employees said a lack of COVID-19 protocols led to an outbreak of the virus. Nine employees and managers were infected.

The strike follows similar actions by Starbucks employees who are trying to unionize nationwide, including workers at multiple Starbucks locations in Michigan.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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