Caribou Coffee workers to stage second rally demanding better conditions

They'll hold a "socially-distant car rally" Monday.
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Caribou Coffee workers are taking their fight for better coronavirus-era working conditions straight to their employer's home base.

On Monday afternoon, Caribou employees will stage a "socially-distant car rally" outside the company's headquarters in Brooklyn Park — their second such rally in the space of a month.

The first rally was held outside a Caribou Coffee location in Roseville in late April, with the workers making the same demands they are now: adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) in all stores, a company-wide paid sick leave and better hazard pay for frontline workers, a news release says.

The demonstrators are backed by the nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) of Minnesota, which says in the release that "many Caribou Coffee stores are encouraging customers to enter, place an order at the counter and exchange money without abiding by social distancing guidelines" — even though Minnesota restaurants will still not be officially open as the state eases stay-at-home orders.

"While the company has made some changes" since last month's protest, the group says, "they have not gone far enough to address workers’ concern.

ROC goes on to say that Caribou employees are reporting a lack of access to masks and that "cleaning and sanitation supplies are running out," while "the company has still refused to institute a robust and comprehensive sick leave policy in all stores." 

Workers are also calling for hazard pay of $3 per hour. ROC says that although Caribou previously instituted a 10% hourly raise, it only lasted a month.

Caribou Coffee's response

In an email to BringMeTheNews, Caribou Coffee addressed the group's complaints, first disputing the claim about inadequate PPE and sanitation supplies.

"Caribou Coffee has no reported shortages of safety equipment or cleaning supplies at any store," a spokesperson says, adding that workers are encouraged to raise concerns and ask questions via an “always-on” internal platform and other programs.

Regarding the claim that some stores are allowing customers to enter without observing social distancing, Caribou says they encourage "contactless drive thru and curbside pick-up where available." 

If customers do enter, the spokesperson says, they're met with a number of measures to ensure safety, including socially distanced lines, acrylic sneeze guards at every register and guest-facing credit card readers.

The company also issued the following statement:

Since the onset of COVID-19, Caribou Coffee has and will continue to support the physical and financial well-being of our team through a bundle of team member support. This includes a 10% pay increase for team members during the month of May, and as applicable, paid time off, assistance with state and federal programs, unpaid leave, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), emergency pay, short-term disability, access to Caribou Cares (employee assistance program), and benefit eligibility protection.

Caribou Coffee has also made several changes over the past few months to enhance social distancing, promote overall safety, and introduce contactless interaction in every store, including but not limited to: frequent hand-washing and sanitization practices, glove usage for guest interactions, acrylic sneeze guards at every counter, pre-shift wellness checks, guest and team member social distancing guidelines and cues, curbside and call ahead capabilities, closing dining rooms and restrooms to the public, and professionally produced face coverings. 

The rally is scheduled to happen at 1 p.m.  

BringMeTheNews has reached out to Caribou Coffee for comment regarding ROC's complaints. 

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