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Chicago Baristas Join Nationwide Labor Organizing Effort to Make Wages Transparent

photo by Taymaz Valley

A Google form for Chicago Coffee workers has been making the rounds that asks local workers to anonymously disclose where they work and for how much.

“If you are an employed at a cafe or business that serves coffee and live in the Chicagoland area, please fill out this short survey,” the form reads. “We are creating a database of wages across the city for transparency.”

It follows in the footsteps of a national effort started in Philadelphia to disclose how much coffee workers make in various coffeeshops.

The original spreadsheet, started by a barista who has chosen to remain anonymous, is the latest in a series of crowdsourced wage spreadsheets seeking to increase solidarity among workers and improve working conditions at cafes. Many feel that open and honest communication amongst workers is the first tool toward organizing for collective needs.

One coffee worker was quoted as saying that like many jobs, coffee worker wages are very secretive and the work can promote in-fighting toward working for upward mobility.

Of course, for Chicago this could mean a lot for its always growing supply of coffee roasters. The Trib’s best guess at a total of roasters calling Chicago home late last year was 38, and that doesn’t even include the many one-off shops that use a different roaster.

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