Boba Guys employees become first California boba shop workers to unionize

Boba Guys employees become first California boba shop workers to unionizeBoba Guys employees become first California boba shop workers to unionize
via bobaguys
Ryan General
September 29, 2023
Employees from six Boba Guys locations in Los Angeles County are set to join the California Retail & Restaurant Worker Union (CRRWU), marking a significant milestone in the labor movement within the boba industry.
First unionized boba place: According to the CRRWU, the Boba Guys stores will be the first unionized boba establishments in California after a successful election.
The union group also represents workers at Genwa, a Korean barbecue restaurant chain in Los Angeles that unionized in 2021. 
Process of engagement: CRRWU started engaging with Boba Guys’ workers six months ago, reported the Los Angeles Times. In July, they filed for a union with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which culminated in the counting of a mail-in ballot election on Sept. 27. The union is hoping that the unionization will set a precedent in the industry. 
CRRWU is also actively involved in ongoing unionization efforts at other establishments, including Korean grocery outlet Hannam Chain and air purifier manufacturer Coway.
Support from Boba Guys leadership: Andrew Chau, the co-founder and CEO of Boba Guys, expressed his support for the labor vote conducted by the NLRB and supported by CRRWU in a statement. He also encouraged other businesses to engage in a dialogue with their employees and support similar efforts. 
“We have always believed in the right to organize and have cooperated with CRRWU and the NLRB throughout the entire process,” Chau saiad, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Previous challenges: The journey to unionization was not without challenges for Boba Guys. In the past, the boba chain faced backlash, including allegations of reducing employee hours, inadequate working conditions and controversies surrounding worker terminations. Notably, a worker claimed she was fired for posting about unions in a company Slack channel.
Earlier allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment in 2020 and accusations of union-busting in the Mission District location last year further fueled concerns about the company’s labor practices. Workers have reported suspensions without pay and restrictions from entering Boba Guys locations, indicating a contentious labor environment.
Months prior to the unionization, Boba Guys also permanently closed its original San Francisco store following accusations of illegal audio recording by management.
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