Insomnia Cookies Suspends IWW Workers, Violates NLRB Agreement
BOSTON/Kenmore Square – Just days after a settlement agreement was reached between Insomnia Cookies, several striking workers, and their union, the employer has suspended a union staff member.
Tasia Edmonds, who works at the Insomnia location near Boston University and is a union organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union, was put on leave from her job earlier this week in what she calls an attempt at “union-busting.”
An agreement was reached between the union and Insomnia through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) at the beginning of the week, which stipulated that the company will not fire workers or “take any other action” against its employees for engaging in the federally “protected activities” of union-organizing and going on strike.
In an interview, Edmonds told Open Media Boston that she’s “been public about being a union organizer for several months now,” and alleges that “they are trying to get rid of me to prevent me from organizing at the store.”
Edmonds says she’s “never been disciplined before,” and that she’s “never been written up in the almost five months” she’s been working at Insomnia Cookies, but “now they’re claiming that I was insubordinate when I was not.”
According to Edmonds, “I had a small personal conflict with one of the employees there,” but that person, who had just moved into management, “had no problem with me, and didn’t write me up.” However, she alleges that a different manager seized upon the opportunity to suspend her, saying that “I’m guessing they’ve been looking for an opportunity to get rid of me for a while.”
Workers at Insomnia Cookies have been attempting to unionize through the IWW since August last year, when several of them struck for better working conditions, increased pay, and health insurance.
Following the strike four workers were fired, but were awarded back pay and other concessions after the agreement was reached through the NLRB.
Edmonds claims that she was targeted by management in a similar way to another union organizer at the store, Tommy Mendes, who was fired for allegedly stealing from a cash register.
Mendes vehemently denied those claims, saying that management had no physical evidence despite a camera positioned near the cash registers, instead claiming that he was targeted for his activism.
Edmonds has been suspended for a month, and says “I do believe that I’m being targeted for my union membership, and over-disciplined based on the fact that they don’t want me organizing there.”
A picket in support of Edmonds was held outside the Insomnia Cookies’ Boston University location on Friday night, with about 25 people in attendance.
IWW members participated in the protest along with members of the Green Party, Resist the Raids, Socialist Alternative, Boston Solidarity Network, and Common Struggle.
There was no police presence during the protest, but a security guard employed by Insomnia watched the protest from inside the store, and immediately following the demonstration a Boston University Police Department officer arrived on the scene and spoke with Insomnia employees.
Open Media Boston made multiple requests for a press statement from Insomnia Cookies, however the company has yet to comment publicly on the issue.