From Iceland — Icelandic Labour Union Draws From Experience In New York To Help Restaurant Workers

Icelandic Labour Union Draws From Experience In New York To Help Restaurant Workers

Published February 8, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Stardust Family United

Tomorrow, the Efling labour union will be hosting a free talk, where organisers from the US will recount their experiences with restaurant workers in New York, in the hopes that workers and organisers alike in Iceland can draw from their lessons. The head of Efling’s organising division sees many parallels that can be drawn between the labour experiences of these countries.

The event, hosted by the Efling Organising Division, will feature Marianne Garneau, an organiser with the Industrial Workers of the World, and Kevin Ray, a songwriter-singer and labour activist from Los Angeles. Of particular focus will be the labour struggle and worker’s victory at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a New York restaurant whose workers organised themselves to improve their pay and work conditions.

Maxim Baru, the head of Efling’s organising division, believes that Stardust’s strategies and successes can apply to restaurant workers in Iceland.

“New York City is such a colossal market that the popular perception is people are very cut-throat, or that people will always just move laterally to find other jobs rather than organise,” Maxim told Grapevine. “So I wanted to give the feeling that if we can make it happen in New York, under those market and social conditions and with that level of tourism, we can make it happen here.”

The event begins tomorrow at 15:00 and lasts until 17:00, on the 4th floor of Efling offices at Guðrúnartún 1. It is free and open to the general public. As a great follow-up, Marianne and Kevin will also be leading a special training session the following day which teaches workers how to organise themselves, and fight for better conditions in the workplace.

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