Following mandatory COVID-19-related restaurant and café shutdowns, the U.S. Chapter of the Specialty Coffee Association is demanding state government support for coffee workers.
BY KATRINA YENTCH
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
This week, we discussed the impact that COVID-19 is having on states in the U.S.A. that have forced their cafés and restaurants to close down indefinitely—particularly Ohio and Washington state. Since these closures, we’ve seen countless admirable efforts by these businesses, baristas, and other coffee workers to provide emotional and financial support during this time.
After reluctantly canceling the Specialty Coffee Expo, the Specialty Coffee Association’s U.S. Chapter is doing their part in these efforts by formalizing a petition to aid coffee workers across America. Addressed to all U.S. governors, the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and President Trump, the volunteer-led initiative (led by National Coordinator Marcus Boni) calls on the country’s governing bodies to recognize how essential coffee shops and businesses are to people’s livelihoods. In the United States, nearly all of these businesses have been either shut down completely or reduced to takeaway-only services in several states that have mandated shelter-in-place restrictions, including Ohio, California, Florida, Washington state, and several others.
“Our coffee professionals are struggling to pay bills while also worrying about their future in coffee,” says Mansi Chokshi, regional community director of the SCA. “We’ve all talked about the challenges to our supply chain and how vulnerable the two ends are, and now we’re forced to think about how to support them while also creating a future that hopefully doesn’t put them in these positions ever again. We don’t owe it just to them, but also our entire industry, to support them while thinking of the new normal for specialty coffee.”
The petition makes a series of requests to assist coffee workers who have been suffering through this time. Because of limited hours scheduled or hours cut completely, it says that they are impacted by the following:
- No income or significantly reduced income
- Not being able to pay rent
- Not being able to receive unemployment benefits
- No access to health insurance or health care
- No blueprint for a safety plan/contingency for baristas, cafés, and the coffee industry
In response, the U.S. Chapter of the SCA asks that there be legislative action and support taken through means like expanded unemployment relief, tax deferment, rent and mortgage deferment, and other financial assistance. Lastly, the petition requests assistance beyond coronavirus-related relief that takes the livelihood of F&B workers into account like a sustainable wage, universal health care (not tied to one’s employer), and paid sick/hazard leave—because these are things that the United States does not currently provide its lower-income residents.
In less than 48 hours, the petition received over 1,300 signatures. You can sign the petition here, where a donation of at least $7 will advertise it 88 more times to new supporters.
In addition to this, the SCA’s U.S. Chapter has also dedicated a portion of its website to COVID-19 resources that are completely community-contributed. To check out this constantly updated list, as well as take a survey that details your own experiences, you can head here.