One of the features we will run on Organizing Work will be stories of campaigns, from the perspective of the workers and organizers involved. These stories will give a sketch of the workplace, how the campaign started and unfolded, and what its successes and challenges were. The goal is to hand down some of the lessons learned to other worker-organizers. A second goal is to better institutionalize knowledge in the IWW. — Ed.

This interview tells the story of the IWW campaign at Ellen’s Stardust Diner in NYC, where the solidarity union goes by the name “Stardust Family United.” The campaign started underground in early 2016, and went public in August of that year. It is still very active and is one of the biggest campaigns in the IWW today. It has never filed for an NLRB election, preferring to address workplace issues through direct action.

The interview addresses the following questions:

What is the workplace?

What made the workers decide to organize?

How did they end up with the IWW?

What did the IWW do to help their campaign?

In what ways did the union start to take action?

What did retaliation look like?

How did workers defend themselves and preserve the campaign in the face of retaliation?

What are some of the things have they won, and how?

What has been the role of the law and legal processes in these victories?

Why can’t workers rely on the law alone?