Radio — Coffeeshop workers in Halifax get organized: Baristas Rise Up



On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, coffeeshop workers Charlie Huntley and Shelby Kennedy talk about being worker-organizers with the Baristas Rise Up campaign.


Workers in the service sector often don’t make a lot of money, and often have to put up with unfair and arbitrary decisions about everything from how many hours they get, to what the work processes are, to who gets fired and why. And the stereotype goes that people in low-wage service sector jobs are all well-off kids looking for pocket money, but if that was ever true, it certainly isn’t now, with more and more people, young and old, depending on such jobs to live, whether it is for a few years or over the long haul.


In Halifax, a group of young workers at a single coffee shop got together and decided they needed to organize themselves. After a long fight that involved firings and a public shaming campaign against their employer, they won certification, and from that small beginning has sprung an exciting campaign that aims to support and organize baristas in establishments around the city. Rather than being driven by union staffers, it is workers themselves who are leading it and making it happen. Huntley and Kennedy talk to me about the origins of Baristas Rise Up, the resistance they’ve faced, the victories they’ve won, and how they hope to organize industry-wide.


For more information about Baristas Rise Up and their work, click here.


Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada through in-depth interviews that concentrate not on current events or the crisis of the moment, but on giving people involved in a broad range of social change work a chance to take a longer view as they talk about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. To learn more about the show in general, click here.


You can also learn more about ways to listen or go to the show’s page on To learn more about suggesting grassroots groups and organizations for future shows, click here. For details on the show’s theme music, click here.


Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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