COVID-19 is reshaping the economic landscape around the globe. Coffee shops and restaurants and their employees are feeling the biggest pinch, having both been deemed an “essential business,” thus allowing them to stay open all the while mandating nearly all of their customer base to shelter in place. And many cafes consider themselves not just businesses looking to turn a caffeinated buck but also communal hubs for their local neighborhoods, serving a purpose beyond the bottom line, and because of this the shops in these uncertain times may find themselves operating for the greater good without the budget or safety net to do so.
To make it through to the other side—whenever that may be—cafes and coffee professionals are going to need help, and the most likely source of that assistance would be the government. That’s why the the Specialty Coffee Association US Chapter Committee led by National Coordinator Marcus Boni organized a petition on Change.org asking elected officials to enact short- and long-term solutions that will not only help the industry survive the current shutdown but also thrive after it.
In the petition started Wednesday, March 25th, the US SCA lays out the basis of their call for aid.
Tip jars and health care are gone, child care and rents will soon go unpaid, and we are growing more concerned with each passing day.
The individuals in our sector are most impacted by:
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 healthcare
No blueprint for a safety plan/contingency for baristas, cafes and the coffee industry
The US SCA’s aid requests can be broken down into two discrete categories: immediate and longterm. Per the petition, the most pressing needs are financial in nature:
Expansion of qualification for unemployment relief (to include freelance restrictions, temp agency loophole, significant reduction in hours but still not terminated, etc.);
Small business and individual tax deferment;
Universal eviction protection and rent suspension;
Mortgage and rent deferment for both individuals and businesses that extends 30 days past the time in which a business can be open and individuals have resumed work;
Federal and State loan payment deferrals, with no accrual of interest;
Credit card payment deferrals, particularly those held by large banks;
Individual access to financial resources such as no-interest loans, and other financial counseling services;
Small business loans that allow employers to continue to keep their staff employed, paid and with benefits (including the sick leave all employees will need to reopen and continue to operate in the safest possible manner)
Beyond the current crisis, the petition asks officials to consider measures that would keep industry professionals out of the dire straits in which they current find themselves. They include;
A sustainable and living wage for baristas and workers in the food and beverage industry;
Access to universal healthcare not tied to one’s employer;
Paid sick leave and hazard pay
If you believe what the US SCA is requesting is fair and equitable, please consider joining the over 1,000 others (as of publication) by signing the petition and let your collective voices be heard. For more information, visit the US SCA’s Change.org petition page.