Baristas on strike at Uptown coffee shop coronavirus

Baristas on strike at Uptown coffee shop coronavirus

A labor dispute between the owners of the Uptown coffee house Still Perkin’ and six previously fired baristas is unfolding outside the front doors of the business on Prytania and Washington, near Lafayette Cemetery number 1. 

The workers are demanding the owners restore their previous $15-to-$18 an hour wage instead of the $8.25-to-$8.50 an hour they are now offering. 

They also want paid family and medical leave.

“We normally made between $15 and $18 an hour before COVID and they offered us $8.25 to come back without compensating for our tips,” Charlotte Wilcox told the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate. 

Wilcox and five other baristas were fired earlier in the week after the owners refused their demands. 

The baristas also demanded the shop provide them in writing assurances they are operating in compliance with all health and safety codes. 

The shops co-owners say they are operating in compliance and offered wage increases, but contend reopening the business under the pressure of back rent owned and fewer customers means they can only offer lower wages at this time. 

“I have a daughter who is an hourly wage worker and has four children at home,” Co-owner Terry Fontham told the paper. “I understand people can work hard and not make enough. I am very sympathetic and if we had money coming into the shop we would be delighted to do more than we are currently able to do.”

The co-owners had to cover $17,000-a-month rent for the two months the shop was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Wilcox maintains had the co-owners opted for the government Paycheck Protection Program, they could’ve continued getting paid. 

She even recommended they sign up for the program which at the time appeared to be forgivable. 

But co-owner and on-site manager Kathy Redmann responded, telling the paper: “I experienced this after Katrina when the SBA said the loan may be forgiven and none of the loans were forgiven.  So, I said (to the baristas), ‘This is not something I’m getting for free and can pass off to you.'”

The labor dispute has drawn the attention of the Hospitality Workers Alliance, who is also on the picket line with the dismissed workers. 

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