First Avenue workers pose with their fists raised outside the iconic Minneapolis music venue only a few hours before the First Avenue management voluntarily recognized the union.

First Avenue Workers’ Victory: Another Win for Union and Worker Center Collaborations

In the late summer of 2021, a group of workers from First Avenue, the iconic Minneapolis music venue, were fed up with low pay, last-minute scheduling, lack of parking, and safety concerns, and wanted to implement some of their own ideas in their workplace. Unsure of how to get it done, the workers decided to first contact  Restaurant Opportunities Center of Minnesota (ROC-MN) to learn more about their workplace rights. 

Fast forward to November 2: Over 200 bartenders, event staff, and other in-house workers across seven venues affiliated with First Avenue marched on the boss and delivered a petition that included the faces and names of over 70% of staff who want to unionize with UNITE HERE Local 17. About 24 hours later, First Avenue management voluntarily recognized the union. 

Workers say the unionization effort was successful, in part, due to the collaboration between the worker center and the union. Even before formal recognition, workers were confident. Pauli DeMaris, a First Avenue bartender and event staff for the past 18 years, said in an interview with Workday Magazine a few hours before recognition, “We have over 70% majority already on board.

A shot of the Master Lock factory in Milwaukee, WI as a worker leaves after their shift.

Master Lock Factory in Milwaukee Closes After 100 Years

After more than 100 years, Master Lock’s iconic factory in Milwaukee is shutting its doors in March 2024. The closure will result in 400 lost union jobs, and also mark the end of a former industrial region of the city that once housed some 50 plants.

The Real News, In These Times, and Workday Magazine speak with current and former Master Lock workers on what the closure of this longstanding plant means for them and their community. Transcript

The following is a transcript of the video

President Obama:

Hello, Milwaukee. That’s what we’ve got to be shooting for is to create opportunities for hardworking Americans to get in there and start making stuff again and sending it all over the world, products stamped with three proud words, “Made in America.” That’s what’s happening right here at Master Lock.

José Alfredo Gómez delante de su casa. Tiene una gran cicatriz en la frente por haberse caído dos pisos mientras trabajaba en una obra.

Demora de asistencia médica, robo de salarios: El costo humano de la clasificación errónea de los trabajadores.

Este informe fue traducido del inglés por Maria Uhlmann. Read this article in English. En 2022, José Alfredo Gómez, trabajador de la construcción, afirma que se cayó desde el segundo piso de la casa en que trabajaba. Un grupo de hombres en una embarcación en un lago cercano se percató, y llamó a la ambulancia. Esto, en contra de la voluntad del encargado de la obra, quien insistió en transportarlo en una camioneta sin asientos y llena de herramientas de trabajo, menciona Gomez.

José Alfredo Gómez standing in front of his home. He has a large scar on his forehead from falling two stories while working on a construction site.

Delayed Care, Stolen Wages: The Human Cost of Worker Misclassification

In 2022, construction worker José Alfredo Gómez fell two stories from the home he was working on, he says. A group of men on a boat in a nearby lake saw and called an ambulance. This was against the wishes of the jobsite supervisor, who insisted on transporting him in a work van, which had no seats and was filled with tools, Gómez says. The ambulance arrived, but Gómez’s injuries were so extreme, emergency personnel decided it would be best to airlift him to a hospital in St. Paul, Minn., where he was able to be treated, he recalls.