Workers United Upstate New York

Workers United Upstate New York

Ida Breiman Institute for Organizing Training

Focused in Upstate New York


“We want free labor and free reward,
The fruits of our very hands,
We want blood to be shed no more,
And slavery forever banned.

We want this freedom, this world,
We see the future with clarity,
Every slave is human, every human, a hero,
When his weapons are compassion and veracity.”
David Edelstadt, from “A Crumb of Bread,” 1889

Help us build the labor movement!

Home to Starbucks Workers United, Workers United Upstate New York was founded by radical immigrant garment workers, like the buttonhole maker and poet David Edelstadt. We remain committed to industrial unionism and to the class struggle. We believe that organizing a union is not just about winning higher wages and benefits. It’s about changing power dynamics and building solidarity. When you organize, you’re creating something bigger than yourself. You’re becoming part of a dynamic, transformative and radical force for justice – the labor movement.

We represent workers across many industries — coffee shops and casinos, laundries and warehouses, garment factories and dining halls, manufacturing plants and hotels. In 2019, we helped baristas at Spot Coffee organize – making them the largest restaurant and coffee shop union in the country. As part of a larger project to organize the entire restaurant and coffee industry in Upstate New York, we launched a campaign in the summer of 2021 to organize Starbucks workers, creating Starbucks Workers United. We are an organizing union, committed to building power for workers and fighting exploitation.

Join us!

In 1913, Ida Breiman was a 17-year-old immigrant who had fled antisemitic violence in Ukraine and moved to Rochester, NY, where she was working in a sweatshop. She and her coworkers across the industry walked out in a general strike. While on the picket line, Ida was shot and killed by one of the sweatshop owners. Her death was a primary factor in the workers’ strike victory. We remember Ida as one of the founders of our union and carry on her legacy of organizing industrially.

Workers United Upstate is offering an organizing training including hands-on experience, through the Ida Breiman Institute for Organizing Training, a program designed to offer training and work experience to anyone interested in becoming part of the labor movement and organizing their workplace.

The program begins with a classroom component that goes over history, theory, and tactics. New organizers are then placed in the field on active organizing campaigns where they can develop their skills and get a real understanding of organizing work.

The program is run by experienced organizers who emphasize what approaches are truly helping workers win organizing drives today.

We believe that the best way to help workers – and the best way to learn union organizing – is through inside organizing and building strong worker committees. When you join us as an intern through the Ida Breiman Institute, your commitment to us is to help build the movement in upstate New York. Our commitment to you is to help train you as an organizer.

To Apply
Please email organizeupstate@gmail.com:

  • Include your name, email, and phone number
  • Please attach a résumé
  • Answer these questions:
    • Tell us something about yourself!
    • Why are you interested in joining the Ida Breiman Institute?
    • What role do you see the labor movement playing in society?

For more information, visit: workersunitedupstate.org.

WHEN APPLYING: Be sure to indicate that you saw this information at UNIONJOBS.COM.