Introducing 'Shift Change'!

A new Industrial Union effort for Atlanta Restaurant Workers.

Contact Us

Restaurants are Failing their Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the past few weeks the Atlanta restaurant industry has collapsed, and it's food service workers that are bearing the brunt. Restaurant owners are angling for tax cuts and bailouts that will most likely never see the people that actually make the food their establishments sell. Many of us are being laid off, having our hours reduced, or our pay cut.

The restaurant workers of Atlanta have had enough – it’s time for some change.

So what is “Shift Change”?

Shift Change is an Industrial Union for all the restaurant workers of Atlanta.

An industrial union functions differently than an individual workplace union. The single work­place union model is what most unions use and is great in many cases! The restaurant industry however is very different and notoriously dif­ficult to organize. In fact, many large mainstream unions regard restaurant workers as ‘unorganizable’ – the IWW rejects this position entirely. Part of the reason for this is that restaurant owners often find it easier to fire people rather than pay them well or treat them with respect!

Restaurant workers are entirely responsible for building and sustaining this massive thriving industry in Atlanta and our short-term goals are centered around supporting them during this moment of crisis. In the meantime, we will be building individual workplace unions in Atlanta that will be part of Shift Change. This allows us to not only begin helping workers improve their conditions immediately, but also begins the process of building a network of sol­idarity among the restaurant workers in Atlanta that will outlast this crisis and improve our lives and industry after it ends.

Who is building Shift Change?

Shift Change is made up of restaurant workers in Atlanta and no one else –only restaurant industry workers can join this union! Shift Change is a member union of the Industrial Workers of the World, an international union for all workers in every industry! The IWW originated the strategy of the Industrial Union and has been fighting for worker’s rights since 1905!

The IWW was the first union in the US to put white workers and workers of color as well as male and female workers in the same union – before this time all unions were heavily segregated, with most barring entry to anyone who was not a white male. More recently the IWW has made history again by establishing the first federally recognized fast-food workers union in US history.

Further, Shift Change and the IWW are both apolitical organizations – we don’t make deals with or give money to the Democrats, Republicans, or any other political party. We don’t endorse candidates and we don’t make donations to them. All organizers in Shift Change and the IWW on the whole are volunteers except for a few full-time staffers who work at HQ.

So what happens if I join?

If you join us in this fight, you will be a member of Shift Change, as well as your workplace union. Your workplace union would be a member-union of Shift Change. If you’ve never been in a union before that’s fine! We will train you to organize a union at your workplace with your co-workers on your own terms. The beauty of these trainings is that they apply to every job you will ever have and you will carry these new skills with you everywhere!

All member-unions are functionally independent from Shift Change and largely have full control over their own policies, goals, and tactics with support from the rest of Shift Change. Think of Shift Change as like a congress of the restaurant workers in Atlanta. Each restaurant will have a representative at meetings.

Here is a simplified roadmap of how Shift Change can allow us to go from workers struggling individually to a powerful movement that achieves real results:

  1. Apply to join Shift Change by filling out this secure form or sending an email to
  2. Shift Change provides you with organizer training, materials, and other support.
  3. Shift Change connects you with mutual aid efforts to immediately start helping you get through this crisis.
  4. Begin organizing an individual union in your workplace with material and strategic support from Shift Change.
  5. Talk to your friends that may work at other restaurants to spread the movement!
  6. Once we reach a critical mass of restaurant workers and individual union campaigns we will begin to push hard for major industry-wide reforms.

We hope to hear from you soon!

You can also reach out to Shift Change on social media!

Donate to our Relief Fund:

Shift Change on Social Media

How to give help and how to get help

If you’re interested in supporting our cause, or if you are in the service industry and need assistance, please contact us.

Lost your job? Personally affected by the closures? Please take a moment to fill out this survey so we can better understand the needs of our community.

Donate to our Hardship Fund