On August 24, members of the Pittsburgh branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation assisted in organizing a demonstration in solidarity with a group of disenfranchised employees of local coffee chain Crazy Mocha. The workers had been laid off in retaliation for trying to organize for better and safer working conditions for themselves and others during the coronavirus pandemic.
The group demonstrated outside of Crazy Mocha’s recently opened location in the Oakland neighborhood, confronting management and engaging with fellow workers and students making their morning commute down Forbes Avenue. The Baristas stood in front of the entrance leading chants and testifying to the disrespect they experienced at the hands of Crazy Mocha management. PSL members handed out fliers with a statement drafted by the workers explaining how Crazy Mocha’s management took advantage of the uncertainty of the pandemic to leave loyal, long time employees in the dark about their work status instead on engaging in good faith conversation; finally opting to restructure and reopen without the workers who initially raised concerns about safety standards within the store.
The workers issued the following statement:
“On March 17th all Crazy Mocha employees were laid off due to Covid-19. In the weeks and months that followed owner Ed Wethli declined to communicate with any staff amidst a growing pandemic.
As businesses across the city shuttered and unemployment skyrocketed, Ed gave press releases and social media updates but never once spoke to his staff of nearly 100 employees.
“And then your baristas reached out for regular communication and to start a dialogue about other improvements. At first Ed and the Crazy Mocha Team seemed open to conversation but that quickly fell apart. Ed and his new general manager made it clear to the baristas that they no longer viewed them as employees despite years upon years of service to the Crazy Mocha name.”
Several Crazy Mocha locations are planning on reopening around Pittsburgh in the near future and the Party for Socialism and Liberation will continue to offer our support in organizing and agitating against a company that chooses profits over people.