Recently, the topic of organizing labor came up unexpectedly in the bar industry as workers at one of the country’s most notable craft cocktail institutions announced their intention to unionize. The establishment in question? NYC’s Death & Co.
Roughly two weeks ago, the Death and Co Workers United Instagram account made a post that read, “Today, we are proud to announce that we have filed our petition with the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] to be recognized as Death & Co Workers United.” The letter attached, which was sent to Death & Co’s upper management, applauds the bar, but claims that the unionization is in order to build a “stronger Death and Co. together.”
In such an industry where health insurance options tend to be mediocre at best, paid time off is a rarity, and 401(k)s are virtually non-existent, unionization is seldom seen as a potential reality. Though, in light of Starbucks workers’ recent moves to unionize, as well as strikes disrupting the film industry for the better part of this year, it’s perhaps time for more industries to enter the conversation of unionization. After all, as the world comes to realize that bartending is a bonafide profession and not just a vocation, it isn’t farfetched to argue that the people in these industries deserve the same shot at union representation as the construction workers and power plant operators that we’ve come to know historically as “union workers.”
At the end of the day, unionization is a powerful move toward greater solidarity, making it impossible to ignore employee demands that stem from workplace frustration. Without sugar coating it, something is clearly amiss at Death & Co, and the employees want to fix it. And, as today’s guest explains, there is a potential win-win in this particular situation that could play out for both workers and upper management alike.
Today on the “Cocktail College” podcast, Tim McKirdy is joined by returning guest and labor expert, Dave Infante, to discuss how bar workers might go about unionizing, and why they may want to do so in the first place. Tune in for more.
For Dave’s Fingers column on the union drive at Death & Co, click here.
For Jill Cockson’s Cocktail College episode referenced in today’s show, click here.