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French Truck baristas walk out for safety in New Orleans French Quarter

By Serena Sojic-Borne

French Truck Coffee workers hold signs on picket line. | Fight Back! News/staff

New Orleans, LA – On January 12 at around 1 p.m., Teamsters union baristas at French Truck Coffee on Chartres Street walked off the job to demand safety at work.

Hours before, a man in the lobby threw a bag of coffee at a pregnant barista. After another barista escorted him out, he then threatened workers and patrons with a knife. Baristas re-entered the store and closed the door until he left. Workers then called the police. Then, they called their manager to request to close early, because working the rest of the shift was unsafe. Their manager, Earl Poole, denied their request and threatened to terminate them if they closed.

“I was just asking myself, ‘why are we still open?’ I was crying in the back,” said barista Madelyn Dick.

Workers then closed the store and began a picket line outside. “We shut this place down because someone pulled a knife on us and our manager told us to get back to work,” said barista Mathieu Ricciardo.

The picket lasted an hour and a half. French Quarter tourists raised fists in support, and other workers in the area began conversations about how they have the power to shut down their shops. Members of Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Starbucks Workers United rushed over to join in solidarity.

“What do we want? Safety! When do we want it? Now” yelled barista Lukas Deffendall. “We want safety, every day!” shouted Abbey Lodwig, an organizer of a union drive at a nearby Starbucks.

One passing tourist reached through the picket line to pull on the locked door handle. “Are you closed?” he asked chanting strikers. When they confirmed that they were, he took a selfie with them and joined in chanting.

#NewOrleansLA #Labor #Strike #Teamsters