Striking Little Dog Coffee Shop workers joined by Bath Iron Works union workers this week. Courtesy of Machinists Local S6

Little Dog Coffee Shop workers remained on strike Thursday while the owner said he is weighing his options, including possibly selling the business.

The shop’s 10 unionized workers voted Saturday to go on strike indefinitely, claiming owner Larry Flaherty had failed to fix broken equipment and engaged in unfair labor practices. The shop has remained closed.

“We’re very proud to be out here on the picket line — bringing light onto the mistreatment we’ve had to endure for months and months,” the union said in a statement. “The amount of (unfair labor practice charges) filed against the owner are egregious, but easily avoidable. … And yet, here we are. Our working conditions have felt nearly impossible to thrive in, let alone complete out basic tasks.”

The workers, who in November voted to unionize through Workers United, will benefit from a support fund set up by the Maine Democratic Socialists of America. The fund raised about $1,100 as of Thursday.

“We appreciate the community funding our solidarity fund to ensure that we can stay out here for as long as we need to get the change that we need,” worker Chris Cushing said. “We should be able to recover most of the lost wages from this.”

Workers from Machinists Union Local S6, Bath Iron Works’ largest union, have joined Little Dog workers on the picket line. Local S6 went on strike in 2020 and earlier this month indicated its willingness to strike again if contract negotiations this summer aren’t fruitful.


The Little Dog workers said a credit card reader malfunction on Saturday was the final straw that prompted the vote to go on strike. This came after a dish-sanitizing machine broke down, forcing them to wash dishes by hand and use a sanitizer they said left rashes on their arms. They also said an air conditioner, espresso machine and drip coffee maker all broke, too.

Flaherty said he has “addressed” all the complaints about broken equipment, including fixing the card reader.

“It’s a very frustrating process for myself because no matter what happens, I’m the bad guy,” he said.

Flaherty acquired Little Dog last year. He also owns the Met Coffee House chain, with one location in Freeport and two in North Conway, New Hampshire.

“I have three very successful shops with three very happy crews,” he said. “What is the difference between these three and the Brunswick shop? There’s only one difference: the employees.”

He said he will not employ replacement workers to keep Little Dog open and is “reviewing all options,” including possibly selling the business.


Worker Jess Czarnecki said Flaherty has been uncommunicative since the strike began.

“It’s up in the air,” she said. “It’s dependent on him.”

Patrick Bruce, an organizer for Workers United who has been working with the union on resolving the unfair labor practice charges and getting a contract signed, said it has been difficult to negotiate with Flaherty.

The two sides last met April 10. Flaherty said they were supposed to meet again April 20 but the union said it never agreed to meet that date. The union then held a one-day strike last month.

“We’ve been always willing to meet with them,” Flaherty said. “They would much rather go on strike than have any meaningful dialogue.”

Bruce denied that assertion.

“It’s been difficult to get a response from the owner for some time,” he said. “We have not been able to see eye-to-eye on anything. … The workers want to work and they want to work safely.”

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