News & Commentary

June 4, 2024

John Fry

John Fry is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary, Compass Coffee workers seek to unionize; UCSD workers are the latest to strike in California; and a massive strike shutters infrastructure in Nigeria.

Washington, D.C.-based Compass Coffee is the latest food service chain to see a wave of union efforts, as employees at seven stores have announced their intent to unionize. The workers are seeking the representation of Workers United, an SEIU affiliate which represents Starbucks workers through Starbucks Workers United. Key demands include the reinstatement of tipping as well as increased benefits and more predictable scheduling. Meanwhile, Workers United and Starbucks have announced that they have made significant progress towards a deal governing terms including just cause termination protections for workers at the hundreds of unionized Starbucks stores.

University of California San Diego academic workers are the latest to walk off the job in the UC system, as the UAW-represented workers protest the schools’ handling of pro-Palestinian campus protests. As Gil covered on Sunday, the teaching assistants, researchers, and other workers are disrupting final exams on California campuses in order to voice their displeasure with universities’ cooperation with police, discipline of protesting students, and investments in weapons manufacturers and other entities linked to the Gaza conflict. While the rolling strike is inspired by UAW’s “stand up strike” at Detroit’s “big three” automakers last year, the UC system has argued that the strikes are unlawful because they are not sufficiently linked to working conditions.

Key infrastructure is shutting down in Nigeria as the country’s labor unions are on strike in pursuit of wage increases to keep pace with blistering inflation. Electricity is currently unavailable and airports are shuttered across the country, as government workers are demanding salary raises to keep pace with price increases in key sectors like fuel. While the government has attempted to restore electricity, the unions were able to block the replacement workers from accessing crucial power stations. The workers are decrying what they call “starvation wages,” and this is their fourth major strike since President Bola Tinubu came into office.

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