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Shoppers, pedestrians and motorists on busy East Jefferson Avenue learned about the ongoing strike against Great Lakes Coffee. Dozens of coffee workers and their supporters held a spirited picket line on June 25 outside of the Rivertown Meijer store just east of downtown Detroit. The store has a GLC franchise inside of it that is operating with scab labor; GLC has permanently closed its site in Midtown and is still operating at its Woodward Corner location.
Comrades in Coffee workers — on strike against GLC since Feb. 16 — “are done grinding” and are demanding a union and a fair contract which includes PPE and COVID protection protocols; a $15 per hour minimum starting wage; health, dental and vision insurance; paid time off for sick days and parental leave and better communication from management to the workers.
Among those participating in the afternoon picket line and rally were striking GLC workers, other coffee workers and former coffee workers; a United Auto Workers Local 600 representative who presented strikers with a $5,000 check on behalf of the union; activists with UNITE HERE Local 24, which is organizing the workers; and members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Young Communist League.
Comrades in Coffee and their supporters directed shoppers and passersby to a free coffee station they had set up on the sidewalk. It offered freshly roasted and brewed hot and cold coffee selections, refreshments and plenty of cold water as well as strike merchandise for sale.
Black liberation and queer activist Sammie Lewis spoke, as did strikers, a former coffee worker and other powerful speakers who described the exploitation at Great Lakes Coffee and in general for poor young workers under capitalism. The main message was solidarity and unity in the face of the judges, politicians and bosses with all of their cutbacks and misery, and that workers can win if we unite and fight.