Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

French Truck employees unionize for safer workplace at Chartres St. location

Photo+Illustration
Eloise Pickering
Photo Illustration

Chartres Street French Truck Coffee employees had an encounter with a patron who threw a bag of coffee beans at a pregnant employee’s head and proceeded to threaten them all with a knife.

Safety is a concern that many employees at the coffee shop have, as it is the only location in the French Quarter that does not have a security guard, unlike the Canal Street location.

“French Truck understands that this is a dangerous area,” said a French Truck employee who wishes to remain anonymous.

The staff requested to be excused for the remainder of the day, but management denied the request and threatened workers with termination, said the employee.

The employees then decided to refuse service in protest and demanded that their safety be taken seriously, according to an Instagram account run by the French Truck union workers.

The employees stood outside of the coffee shop, holding signs that read, “French Truck Workers Safety First.”

Following this incident, on Jan. 22, French Truck corporate closed the location temporarily.

After the protest, Chartres Street employee Mat Ricciardo was fired, according to the unnamed worker.

Ricciardo participated in the walk-out, along with two other baristas, and was present for contract negotiations involving Teamsters labor union, which the Chartres Street location joined in Sept. 2023, according to the workers’ Instagram.

French Truck has not disclosed the reasons for Ricciardo’s termination.

According to sociology professor and Workplace Justice Project research associate Cody Melcher, “It is illegal to fire a worker for unionizing a place of work, but you can fire a worker for any reason.”

A point-system is used for employee accountability, according to the worker.

Points are given to employees for missing shifts without notice or arriving late, and eight infractions can result in termination, they said.

“What the union is arguing is: ‘Protesting shouldn’t be considered points because that is our right to protest,’” they said. “Any way you protest management affects, a lot of times, whether you can pay for rent or afford food.”

After Ricciardo’s firing, French Truck union members and employees are now requesting a “call to action,” demanding his reinstatement, according to the workers’ Instagram.

In order to support a union, Melcher said, “The number one thing is to talk to the union. Talk to the workers themselves and ask them what they want you to do.”

Coffee shops are unlike restaurants; baristas themselves are responsible for cleaning tables and dishes when they are able to, the employee said.

Boycotting would be an unsustainable solution to support employees who rely heavily on tips, rather than hourly wage, they said.

The worker said the best way to support service workers is by “just being kind.”

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About the Contributors
Chiara Faircloth, Assistant Worldview Editor
Chiara Faircloth currently serves as The Maroon's Assistant Worldview Editor. Chiara is a sophomore majoring in English and earning an education certification, and she is interested in traveling to Spanish-speaking countries to teach English. In her free time, she is usually with family and friends, watching TV, or reading. Chiara can be reached at [email protected]
Eloise Pickering, Worldview Editor
Eloise Pickering is a current freshman and the Worldview editor. She is a mass communication major, and her favorite movie is Spotlight. When not doing homework or working at the Maroon, Eloise can often be found pondering philosophically in Audubon Park. She has often been dubbed “The Thinker.” Eloise can be reached at [email protected].

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