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Across the U.S., a new generation of workers — young, Black, Brown, immigrant, queer — are leading the charge to unionize their workplaces. From Amazon to Starbucks to Target to Trader Joe’s, workers are increasingly seeing the need to organize where they are strongest, and to fight not only for better wages, but also for better conditions and against the oppression they face in their daily lives. However, the struggles and victories of workers extend beyond the U.S. and can’t be limited by borders — the working class is international.
We are excited to host Antonio Páez, the president of the Starbucks Union in Chile, the first Starbucks union in Latin America, who will be visiting NYC after attending the Labor Notes Conference in Chicago. Antonio has recently been elected as president of the Starbucks Union Chile and continues to work as a barista as he has been doing for the last 12 years.
2011, the year of the student revolution in Chile, also marked the first strike that Starbucks calledin Latin America. Antonio stood out as a delegate of the stores in the Fifth Region and organizer of the protests in Santiago de Chile.
At the same time as the Starbucks strike, Antonio participated in the takeover of his university, dividing his day between marching in the mornings and picketing outside the coffee shop premises later in the day. His prominent place as a union delegate led to his firing in 2012, and after refusing to be bought out by the company to negotiate his severance pay, he was reinstated in 2013.
In 2018, he got a lot of attention after declaring: “I will not serve any police officer on my shift!” This is how Antonio responded to the alliance announced by Carabineros de Chile and the multinational coffee shop Starbucks. This policy was aimed at sanitizing the image of the police.
Antonio is also a revolutionary socialist; he is member of the Partido de Trabajadores Revolucionarios and was a candidate for the Constituent Assembly in Chile. He will share his experience in organizing Starbucks in Chile, and connect it to the Chilean uprising in 2019 against decades of neoliberal policies and share its relevance for the broader sectors who are questioning capitalism.
Antonio will be joined by Deborath Jofre, who is the secretary of the Starbucks Union in Chile and member of the Women’s and Non-binary Committee. This is an autonomous group of workers which includes non-unionized workers, fighting against discrimination in the workplace affecting women and non-binary folks in an adverse environment where labor rights violations and other company failures are even more accentuated.
Our third speaker will be Michael Aguilar, a queer Amazon LDJ5 warehouse worker at Staten Island, NY. He was part of the attempt to unionize the second facility next to JFK8 and was part of an organizing team that wants to organize their workplace not only for better working conditions but also to fight for LGBTQ+ rights inside and outside the workplace.
Join us on Wednesday June 22 at 7pm at Mayday Space, located at 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237. This event is open to anyone interested in union organizing, workers’ solidarity, and fighting for class struggle unionism.