Three Philly Coffee Shops Forced To Close After Unionization Attempts Result In "Staggering" Costs

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jun 12, 2024 - 09:20 PM

Turns out trying to extort the person paying your salary isn't the best way to go about making sure a business is successful.

Take Philadelphia, for instance, where a chain of three OCF Coffee Houses are closing down "immediately" after its workers informed the owner of their intent to unionize.

Instead, now, none of them have jobs. 

Real estate developer Ori Feibush, who owns the shops, met with employees on Monday said the shut down was a "difficult decision" and said that rising costs and reduced sales contributed to the decision, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

He wrote in a letter to staff: ”But we pushed forward because we understood the positive impact we were making in our communities and the importance to maintain a level of compensation and benefits … that you each deserved."

Then he wrote that “the administrative and legal costs associated with your desire to organize has regrettably moved us beyond any cost that we could sustain."

Feibush said about 45 people worked at OCF’s three coffee shops. He noted that workers, earning $20 to $25 per hour plus benefits, would receive three months of health, vision, and dental coverage, with some eligible for severance.

On June 3, 23 OCF employees presented Feibush with a letter seeking voluntary union recognition and went public with their campaign on social media. They intend to join Local 80, which represents several Philadelphia cafés. They filed for a union vote with the National Labor Relations Board on June 5.

The owner told the Inquirer when reached by phone: “This is a significant part of my personal and professional life. I’m sad that it’s abrupt as it is and this is certainly not the narrative or the story that I had hoped for. This just feels like everyone’s a loser.”

He said of the costs of responding to the unionization were “staggering beyond anything — tens of thousands of dollars in just the [last] week and a half.” 

"It put its finger on the scale in such a profound way as it relates to the finances of the organization that it was just a strain that we couldn’t reliably overcome.”

One barista (former) told the Inquirer: “This does feel like retaliation.” Another said: “It’s all just so incredibly sudden. We’re all just in the lurch trying to figure out what to do.”

“There was some talk of shutting down but we genuinely believed that our connections with the community, especially in Fairmount, are so strong that he wouldn’t do it — we’re where people get their drinks and their lunch and have meetings every single day,” the first barista continued.

He continued, railing on the owner: "I just think it’s really reflective of how little Ori actually cares about the community to shut down these locations.”

Alex Riccio, a Local 80 spokesperson and the organizing coordinator of the Philadelphia Joint Board (PJB) of Workers United added: “OCF workers took a courageous stand against a bully boss … That same bully boss chose to shutter his operations, without even the grace of advance notice."

It looks like now the baristas will have find a new "bully boss".