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Spyhouse Coffee workers went on strike Saturday

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In August, around 34 workers at Spyhouse Coffee announced the formation of a union. Christian Johnson, owner of the Twin Cities coffee chain with six locations, refused to recognize it. 

Now, after weeks in limbo, Spyhouse workers are striking all day Saturday. 

"We don't feel safe as workers in this pandemic. Instead of making every step possible to keep us protected, the company is spending time and resources to bust the union," says barista Matt Marciniec. "That is unacceptable, and that is why we are going on strike."

Workers will spend the day picketing outside all Spyhouse locations, culminating with a 1 p.m. rally at the 945 Broadway St. NE. location in Minneapolis. Johnson, who has opted to let a PR firm handle questions about his unionizing workforce, has recently hired lawyers to help bust the union effort, workers claim. 

"Spyhouse workers have been fighting for months for COVID safety measures for not only themselves, but for their customers; safety is the No. 1 priority of the workers," says Sheigh Freeberg, an organizer with Unite Here Local 17. "Instead of listening to the workers, the employer has decided to attempt to bust their union drive. Today the workers are standing up for safety and for their right to have their voices heard!" 

Spyhouse, Lawless, Stilheart, Tattersall, Fair State, and Surly — all of which were organized by Unite Here Local 17, the Minneapolis-based hospitality union that represents around 6,000 workers — are local examples of a small but surging push for unionizing food workers. The reactions from ownership have varied: Bosses at Fair State welcomed their organized workers, while Surly laid off over 100 of theirs (Surly claims the move wasn't union-related; the union disagrees).