The Hellhole – Week of 6/24

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Image of melted iced tea with slice of lemon with the words "Seattle Hellhole" and "Abolish ICE"
Image of melted iced tea with slice of lemon with the words “Seattle Hellhole” and “Abolish ICE”

In this Issue:

Labor struggles brew for Seattle baristas

Seattle’s brewletariat masses work on coffee. But the bosses are making damn sure that the coffee business isn’t working for the workers. Baristas at Ballard Slate Coffee have walked out over wage theft, hostile workplaces, and waffling management:

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(1/2) Good morning! As you may notice, there are no baristas here to serve you coffee. Awkward? We know. And you're probably curious as to why – so we're happy to explain. Baristas are asked to be professionals. We balance technical, manual, mechanical, service and palate skills – often simultaneously – and at a high pace. With Seattle being a hub for coffee (frequently hosting events with an international draw such as the Specialty Coffee Association national expo and competition) we also act as the representatives of the brand both within the industry and to customers. As unexpected as it may sound, we spend years honing our skills to do work at this level (a minimum of 2 years experience is expected in most specialty cafes, for example). We have decided to withdraw our labor (effective immediately) because we do not feel our employers treat us with the same professionalism that they ask of us. We have experienced a toxic work environment: this includes but is not limited to dishonesty; discrimination of many kinds; bullying and intimidation; late and unrecieved pay; disingenuous promises and so much more. Our expressed concerns have been met with silence at best, and more often condescension. We have chosen to resign in this manner because we no longer feel comfortable in this environment and wish to be transparent about this with those we serve daily. We walk out as an act of solidarity with current and former employees who have not been treated with ordinary decency. We do not wish to make any decisions for you, what we want to do is tell the truth. If you are curious for more information and wish to continue the conversation, find us on Instagram (@coffeeatlarge) or email us at [email protected]

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It’s an open secret that coffee shops and stands are ripe for exploitation. Sharing in this struggle are so-called bikini baristas, who face workplace conditions like loosely regulated stands sweltering in summer months, sexual harassment from owners and customers, and (if heat is even available in winter) the risk of death and explosion, which killed worker Courtney Campbell in 2016.

People who brew coffee deserve dignity and the full value they create at work. They deserve a say over their conditions and scheduling. When small-business dictators rule over each stand and cafe, there can be no real freedom. There can be no democracy — until there’s democracy at work. Organize your workplace.

Everett declares class war on supportive housing in single-family neighborhoods

Being unhoused is pretty straightforward. Someone doesn’t have shelter. Everyone needs shelter. They should get it. 

Everett is in a situation where low or no barrier housing can happen, but well-off neighbors are saying “not in my backyard” to supportive housing and services for the poor in single-family neighborhoods. When the rich say “beggars can’t be choosers,” they mean that they get to make all the decisions. That’s class war. There is no safety for workers if some of us are bought off while the others starve on the streets or die crossing borders.

Want housing and services for the poor, where-ever it can be placed? Sound off at Everett City Council’s public hearing on a six-month moratorium on supportive housing on Wednesday, July 10 at 6:30 pm at the City Council Chambers on 3002 Wetmore Avenue, Everett, WA.

UFCW Grocery Union needs you. To not cross a picket line.

Workers who stock the shelves and prepare your food at QFC, Fred Meyers, Safeway, and Albertsons are under prolonged siege. The contract for grocery workers has been up and bargaining has been taking place for over a year. 

Echoing the Stop and Shop strikes on the east coast earlier this year, union workers are asking that the public sign in support and pledge to never cross the picket line, should one occur. That’s a simple ask. it’s gotten so bad that workers are ready to shut it down. Sign up and put the bosses on the back foot.

Radical labor at Wayfair turn up the fight for immigration and racial justice. We must stop ICE raids in Washington.

It’s not enough to be secure with our own conditions. What comfort is there in earning the full value of your labor, if it’s built on the lives of the global south? Workers at Wayfair furniture asked that same question. They found their bosses complicit. Now, they staged a walkout. That’s some gosh darn working-class heroism. 

There are concentration camps for migrants across the United States (including the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac). Here’s one concentration camp as seen from above. Don’t look away. It’s not enough to feel bad; it’s not enough to condemn. Let it radicalize you instead. While ICE continues to escalate kidnapping people from courthouses in Grant, Benton, and Adams county, there are raids ongoing in Washington state. Skagit County saw as recently as Wednesday evening targeting families in Mount Vernon, along Riverside Drive, and Burlington apartment complexes:

ICE is raiding here in Skagit county. Please be careful all! Doing stops and just left la tienda el mundo.

Posted by Sabrina Cisneros on Tuesday, June 25, 2019

If you’ve seen or heard rumors about ICE raid, call the WAISN HOTLINE @ 1-844-724-3737. They’re set up to sort between the rumors and the truth about ICEs activities in all across Washington. The goal of ICE is to not only intimidate those captured but to instill fear in the community. A community united can drive the wolf from the door.

Workers need to stand together. Whether the capitalist government imprisons dozens or tens of thousands, the goal is to coerce migrant workers to accept less, shut up, and bend the knee to the bosses. Either we fight together or the bosses win. Only through solidarity and inter-communalism can we be free. There is no alternative from decades of this violence:

Stable Homes Federal Way blocks evictions.

As reported by The Stranger on Thursday, a precedent-setting Federal Way eviction protection initiative moved forward! Congrats to Washington Community Action Network for this crucial step towards better renter protections in the state. Learn more about WA CAN’s organizing and the Stable Homes campaign. 


Note: The Seattle Hellhole represents the views of its writers and does not represent official positions of Seattle DSA at large. Its writers are a collective working on independent pieces, editing, and design to deliver this each week. If you want to volunteer, join us in #wg_comms_design on Slack or email [email protected]

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