Pavement Coffeehouse Owner Supports Employee Unionization
Two weeks ago, employees of Pavement Coffeehouse sent a letter to founder Larry Margulies expressing their intention to unionize. In one recent comment posted by GBH, Margulies explained in detail why he supports his employees, although he is still worried about the outcome.
As someone who started at the company as a recent college graduate, Margulies said he feels a lot of camaraderie with his employees. In the end, he said, he’s not one of them and probably would have done the same for them.
“I am the leader. And in the eyes of many people today, the bosses are part of the problem,” he wrote. “As someone who has supported unions all my life – and who voted for Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders – I get it: Gen Z saw their parents get crushed by the financial crisis a dozen years ago. They are tired of not being heard as rents triple and the university debt soars 1000% as our social safety net unravel. ”
Margulies is still extremely concerned about what organizing might mean for Pavement’s future. Without the paycheck protection and economic disaster loan programs, he said, Pavement would have closed. Income fell 80% at the height of the pandemic and is still down 40%, he said. The Causeway is losing $ 1,000 a day, one location and their bakery remain closed, and less than half of the workers have been rehired.
“The worst day of my life was when Governor Charlie Baker announced the shutdown of the state and I had no choice but to let 174 people go,” he wrote. “I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. It seemed like the whole world was coming to an end. I felt like I had failed myself and everyone who depended on me – my wife and two daughters, my employees. “
The unionization process is still ongoing: New England Joint Board UNITE HERE, communications and policy director Mitch Fallon told Boston.com the next step is to bring in an independent third party to do an audit cards which guarantee that a qualified majority of workers wish to unionize. The company has agreed to a card check and will honor the results, a Pavement spokesperson said.
“Can unionization help us make common sense changes that empower employees while recognizing that post-COVID restaurants are fragile?” Can this help us work better as a team while being profitable as a business? And most importantly, can it help us to stop seeing these problems as a zero sum game where if one side wins, the other inevitably loses? Margulies wrote. “I don’t know the answers. And this might not be the easiest time for any of us to have this conversation. But since we are, let’s find out.
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