Unions across the state support service workers’ unionizing efforts

MAPE’s Coalition Building Workgroup members continue supporting external unionizing efforts to provide support, encouragement and energy around workers’ attempts to make their workplaces more stable and wages fairer. MAPE Region 11 Director, Jessica Raptis, represented MAPE at a recent picket for restaurant workers in Minneapolis.

Kim's informational picket

Workers at Kim’s Restaurant in uptown Minneapolis submitted their intent to unionize in late May, hoping that restaurant owner, Ann Kim, would voluntarily recognize their union. The nearly 60 restaurant workers’ priority in unionizing was to ensure consistent scheduling and hourly wages.

As of June 21, workers were still not recognized and held an informational picket that sparked support from unions across the state to stand in solidarity.

“I have attended many pickets; however, none have matched the energy of the event at Kim’s,” Raptis said. “When I arrived, I was surrounded by fellow union members, local community organizers and staff from Kim’s. It was a welcoming vibe full of energy and excitement for the demonstration ahead.”

The informational picket started one block from the restaurant and a Native band led the way as organizers waived signs and chanted calls for justice.

Kim's info picket

“Witnessing this coordinated group, united in purpose, chanting slogans and smiling, was incredibly powerful,” explained Raptis. “The energy drew the attention of neighbors and passersby, many of whom stopped to inquire about the cause or to join in with words of encouragement.”

When the picket ended, the group reconvened to plan how to deliver to management their letter calling for union recognition. The letter was then read aloud to management. The group gathered after to reflect on the action and discuss ways to improve future actions.

On June 27, Kim’s workers voted to unionize and are now members of UNITE HERE Local 17, Minnesota’s hospitality and craft beverage workers union.

Jess Raptis at Kim's info

“MAPE and other unions must stand in solidarity with service workers seeking to organize,” Raptis continued. “Service industry workers have endured exploitation and neglect for far too long; it is time we all stand up to fight for the working conditions everyone deserves.”

With support at an all-time high for unions across the nation, Raptis believes MAPE and other unions should join together and use that influence for good by supporting all efforts to unionize.

“By standing together with service works, we strengthen MAPE and uphold our commitment to social and economic justice for all,” Raptis concluded.

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