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Vox Pop Coffee Shop Workers in NYC Join the IWW

By Emmy Gilbert - March 1, 2005.

New York, NY - Workers at the Vox Pop coffee shop in Brooklyn unanimously joined the Industrial Workers of the World last week. The employees join a growing movement of NYC retail workers, including Starbucks baristas, who are striving to increase union membership in the industry.

"Vox Pop workers decided we wanted to take the shop’s motto of democracy to its fullest extent," said employee Emmy Gilbert. "And the IWW doesn't think organizing retail is futile."

Each of the six workers on the job joined the IWW, a worker-controlled union dedicated to democracy in the workplace. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the Union is undergoing a renaissance driven by grassroots organizing around the country.

The NYC Retail Workers Union IWW IU660 is based on the solidarity unionism model whereby a retail worker can join from any shop at anytime. Membership in the Union does not terminate when a worker changes jobs, a feature particularly well suited to the high turnover in the retail industry.

Vox Pop is a coffee shop/bookstore/print-on-demand/publishing company in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn. The owners supported the union drive.

"New Yorkers can take heart in the fact that fair-trade coffee served by a 100% unionized workforce is now available in our city," said Daniel Gross, a Starbucks barista and IWW organizer. "The Starbucks sweatshop approach to coffee is not the only way."

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Inside the Vox Pop Coffee Shop.