Lecture: Restaurant workers’ struggle in New York. Build your union.

You don’t have a proper schedule?You’re never allowed to be sick?You don’t get paid overtime?Your boss is enforcing arbitrary new rules and technology?We can build effective unions in restaurants to protect employees and work to keep and improve wages and benefits.Efling Organising Division invites all members to a meeting on Saturday February 9, where Kevin Ray and Marianne Garneau will give a talk about their experience in building the Stardust Family United, a union comprised of singing servers at the world-famous Ellen’s Stardust Diner in Times Square, New York City. SFU is a worker-led solidarity union, which means workers democratically make decisions about what grievances to take on, and then address them with direct action. SFU began in 2016, and has since won raises, benefits, health and safety protections, and numerous other struggles to improve working conditions.Stardust Family United was formed in the early spring of 2016 after a team of new managers took over operations at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Managers began enforcing arbitrary new rules in an attempt to drive decades old employees from the job. Singing Servers began building support for a solidarity union under the umbrella of the Industrial Workers of the World to protect employees and work to keep and improve wages and benefits. They fought collectively and successfully to restore the singers tip bucket and right of return. When management got wind of these actions and started fishing around for the unions leaders, SFU went public in the New York Times. The owner was quoted as saying he wanted to work with the employees but then promptly fired 16 of them and another 16 in January 2017. The servers continued their struggle, building support inside the restaurant, staging musical protests outside, and launching a wide press and social media campaign. They also sued in federal court and won their case with the National Labour Relations Board, getting back jobs and back pay for fired workers. They have continued to grow and win raises for hosts, cooks, and improved safety for all workers.Marianne Garneau is an organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World. She currently chairs the union’s Education Department Board. She holds a PhD in political philosophy from The New School for Social Research. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.Kevin Ray is a songwriter/singer and labour activist originally from Los Angeles. He has worked as a singing server at Ellen’s Stardust Diner in New York City for almost 14 years. In 2016 he was a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World-affiliated Stardust Family United solidarity union. He has since been instrumental in achieving wage gains, reinstatements, and monetary settlements for workers at Ellen’s Diner and in growing the union into a powerful force.Come and feel inspired to take control over your working life and improve your conditions!9 February 2019, 3pm-5pm, 4th floor, Efling – General Union, Guðrúnartún 1, 105 Reykjavik