IWW Starbucks Union News

State of the Unions: Wobblies Look to Stand Strong Again

Wed, 05/23/2007 - 10:57pm -- SWU

Resurgent IWW breeds among New York’s Starbucks baristas and immigrant warehouse workers

by David Freedlander

May 15, 2007 


As the labor movement in America continues its backward retreat, New York has seen a surprising resurgence from the unlikeliest of places—the [Industrial] Workers of the World.

The Wobblies, as the union is commonly known, have led two high-profile organizing campaigns around the city at a series of warehouses in Brooklyn and Queens and at Starbucks locations throughout Manhattan.

Though the members are still few, they have already attracted the attention of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who last month issued a strongly worded letter in defense of the nascent union to Starbucks Corporation CEO James Donald.

“I fully expect that you will allow these employees to consider independently whether to form a union, without outside pressure or intimidation from Starbucks management,” she wrote. “Their efforts to organize are a democratic right and should be respected.”

Both the warehouse and the coffee shop efforts have been resisted by management, which has lead the IWW to file complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. While the warehouse case winds its way through the bureaucracy, in March of last year the NLRB found Starbucks guilty of 30 violations of federal labor law, including threatening, intimidating, and firing workers who joined the IWW.

“Our union is undergoing a resurgence right now,” said Starbucks Worker Union co-founder and IWW organizer Daniel Gross. “There were some tough years, but we are now back with a commitment to organizing again. We have enabled people to not accept the absolute power of their employer at work.”

Baristas of the Bay: Bay Area GMB on Global Day of Action for Starbucks

Wed, 05/23/2007 - 10:01pm -- SWU

By Dean Dempsey and the Bay Area SBUX Organizing Committee

For the Global Day of Action for Starbucks workers, the Starbucks
Organizing Committee of the Bay Area General Membership Branch gathered
outside a Starbucks location in Oakland, CA, to pass out fliers and to
talk to the public.

Before the distribution of union literature outside the store, two
wobblies went inside the Starbucks to talk to the workers about what we
were doing and what the Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) is all about.

Out of the four workers we talked to, three of them were in support of
the idea of unionizing. Their main grievances were their low wages,
treatment from both customers and management, and most of all, their inability to
have sufficient and secured hours. Two contacts were made.

About a dozen wobblies participated in the Global Day of Action in
Oakland, CA. We first met outside the Starbucks and then split into
groups to cover a larger area, talking to workers at other coffee

IWW Starbucks Union Organizer Pete Montalbano on RadioNation with Laura Flanders

Wed, 05/23/2007 - 9:33pm -- SWU

The broadcast will discuss Liza Featherstone's recent Notion post (http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?pid=196455) detailing new legal and political troubles for Starbucks over its treatment of its workers and its anti-union efforts. In New York, the National Labor Relations Board has accused Starbucks of violating workers' freedom of association in about thirty different ways, including illegally firing, threatening and disciplining workers for supporting the union. Managers forbade workers from talking about the union -- even when off-duty -- or wearing union buttons. The trial against Starbucks is in July. Liza Featherstone, author of Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Worker's Rights at Wal-Mart, will report from the trial for her blog. Liza will be joined in studio by Pete Montalbano, a Starbucks barista and IWW member who is a veteran of the campaign.

Llisten to a live stream at http://www.airamerica.com/ on Sunday, May 27 at 1:00pm EST.  A podcast will be available as well.

Industrial Worker: Starbucks violated IWW workers' rights, says NLRB

Tue, 05/22/2007 - 1:29pm -- SWU

The current of issue of the Industrial Worker, the official newspaper of the IWW, has an article about the government complaint against Starbucks for violating the rights of union baristas.  Starbucks has launched a relentless union-busting campaign to keep the money and power on the side of the executives and not in the hands of those who work hard every day making drinks, interacting with customers, cleaning the bathrooms, and operating the cash registers.  Despite the anti-union campaign, barista-union members are improving their life at work by taking direct action against the company around issues of concern like insecure work hours and disrespectful management.

More about why Starbucks baristas are going union

More on how union baristas make work better by supporting each other 

Lancaster Pennsylvania Responds to Call for Action on M17

Mon, 05/21/2007 - 3:10pm -- SWU

Starbucks protest in Lancaster, PA draws 30

by John Schreck

Lancaster, PA - On May 17th, the Lancaster branch of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Lancaster Students for a Democratic Society protested for over three hours at the Columbia Avenue store in solidarity with the IWW-Starbucks Workers Union. At the peak of the event 25 demonstrators were in attendance and approximately 30 people attended all together.

Three years after the founding of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union, the organization has members in multiple U.S states successfully using Direct Action to rise out of poverty and articulate an independent voice on the job.

To silence worker voices, Starbucks has disgracefully terminated eight SWU baristas in retaliation for their union activity. The SWU has prevailed against Starbucks to reinstate two of the members but six
remain out of a job. Despite multiple Labor Board complaints, the coffee giant continues to punish baristas for discussing the union and relentlessly forces union-busting propaganda down workers throats. Starbucks must understand that working people of conscience will not allow this affront to the dignity
of our class.

The demonstrators split into three groups and fanned out across a large parking lot. While singing pro-union songs and waving an array of anti-corporate coffee signs to passing cars, attendees handed out several hundred flyers to those interested, several of which decided against purchasing Starbucks products upon learning of repeated labor violations.

Lancaster has several fair trade coffee shops in the downtown area, but corporate giants are now all around the city. Millersville University, located just outside the city limits, had success getting fair trade coffee introduced to the student body three years ago. However, the university has yet to switch over to all fair trade. Franklin & Marshall, another local university, also is not a completely fair trade institution. Several groups in the area are working to target schools/universities/public areas' distribution of "unfair" trade in the coming months and years.

For more information, please see the following sites:

Lancaster IWW - www.lancasteriww.org/

Lancaster SDS - www.newsds.org/lancaster/

IWW - Starbucks Workers Union - www.starbucksunion.org/


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