Tartine’s Employees are Unionizing

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This photo of some Tartine workers in 2017 comes from Tartine’s FB page.

At 8am this morning employees from Tartine’s four Bay Area restaurants and commissary kitchen presented management with an official letter notifying them that the workers intend to form a union.

Following the success of Anchor Brewing’s unionization in 2019 and that of VCA Veterinary Hospital in 2018, the workers at Tartine linked up with the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union (ILWU) to help them them form their own union. ILWU had been instrumental in the organizing and negotiations of both Anchor and VCA, which have now become part of the ILWU’s Warehouse Division. The Tartine workers and the Longshoremen have been working on this for nearly a year.

It all started when Tartine employees Pat Thomas and Sarah Gagnon began talking to each other about wanting to unionize. They felt that, as Tartine kept getting bigger and bigger (there are around 200 employees in the Bay Area), they received less attention from upper management. In a phone call Pat tells me “When Anchor announced it was unionizing it made made Sarah and I say, ‘If they can do it, we should stop talking about it and form a union too!'”

According to Pat there’s been a correlation between the expanding of the company and the neglect of the current  locations. “There are offices in LA,” Pat explains, “where the financial people are, and we don’t even know them. Yet they are in charge of who gets what, and our onsite managers have to go through them when they want to order anything.”

But beyond that, the folks at Tartine stand behind the principle that workers should have a degree of control over the places they toil. Pat continues, “People who do a job every day have the best understanding of how to run the place they work in. A union contract gives workers more control of the work they do every day.”

At the moment there’s no list of demands because the first step is for the workers is to vote to form a union, and they need to establish the right to collectively bargain with their employer. But some of the things they are obviously concerned with are earning living wages and getting paid time off. A union contract will provide job security because it means it will no longer be at-will employment.

Christopher Christensen is the Legislative Committee Rep for both ILWU Local 34 and the Northern California District Council, as well as a candidate for DCCC AD 17. Along with lead organizer Agustin Ramirez, and others from the ILWU, Christopher has been part of the team that helped unionize Anchor Brewing, VCA, and now Tartine.

Over the phone Christopher tells me, “The ILWU got involved with Tartine because we truly believe that no matter how large or small an entity is, every individual deserves the right to better their life by joining a union.”

Christopher went on to explain that part of what makes ILWU’s organizing special is that they empower to workers to organize themselves. “We don’t just go in and tell them to do what we want,” he elaborated, “We help by giving them the information and structure to form a union. We did not organize the Tartine workers, we helped them organize themselves. It’s not about ILWU, it’s about the workers empowering themselves.”

If you’d like to come out in support of the new Tartine Union there are some events going on tonight (Thursday 2/6).

At 6pm they are having a “Going Public” rally where the public can show up and shower them with positivity and support. It’s at the 24th St. BART station from 6pm-7:15pm.

At 7:30pm they will be at Anchor Public Taps to celebrate with the Anchor Steam workers.

If you support these workers use say so on the internet and use these hashtags #TartineUnion & #TartineUnidos

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.