Full-time and part-time baristas who work at Gimme! Coffee’s Central New York locations will have a chance to vote this Wednesday on whether to organize a union to represent them in workplace contract negotiations.
Gimme! has three café locations in Ithaca, including one in Cornell University’s Gates Hall; one in Trumansburg; and three in New York City; as well as a roastery and bakery. They provide coffee wholesale to lots of Central New York restaurants and cafés, and ship via an online storefront.
According to the National Labor Relations Board, “all full-time, regular part-time and variable-hour employees with the job titles of Barista, Lead Barista, or Barista/Design & Communications Assistant employed by the Employer at its facilities in Ithaca and Trumansburg, New York” who were employed during the payroll period ending May 14th, and are employed on the election date, are eligible to vote.
An official election notice sent to Gimme! and its employees on May 19th states that “Managerial employees, confidential employees, guards, professional employees and supervisors as defined in the National Labor Relations Act, and all other employees” are not eligible to vote.
Gimme! Coffee founder and owner Kevin Cuddeback tells 14850 Magazine he’s “taken a neutral position” on his employees’ unionization efforts. “I understand the social significance of unionization and I respect employees’ right to decide whether to do so,” he says.
“I have to believe it has the potential to be good for both” staff and the business, Cuddeback adds. “Happy, healthy baristas are critical to our retail success. I have a great deal of confidence in abilities of the people working here.”
Cuddeback feels the company is already doing well for its employees. “With tips, starting baristas earn above the livable wage for Tompkins County,” he tells us. “In their initial communication with management the unionizing committee stated they love Gimme, it is more than a job, and it feels like home.”
“We want to prove that you can create a reciprocally transparent and respectful relationship with your employer,” says Gates Hall barista Korbin Richards, “which will hopefully redraw what it means to be in the service industry.” Richards says tomorrow’s vote is “important not just for Gimme! Coffee, but for the whole working class.”
Cayuga Street barista Samantha Mason agrees. “My co-workers and I hope to set an example by practicing democracy daily in embracing our collective power to organize at the workplace,” she says.
Employees will be able to vote anytime between 7am-11am or 4pm-9pm at the company’s West State Street location’s tasting lab tomorrow, Wednesday, May 31st.