IWW Starbucks Union News
Audio Link (IWW piece is second story): http://lsiprelle.simpli.biz/laborradio/files/lo/winsheadlines.ram
June 10, 2005
A worker at a Starbucks in New York City is claiming she was fired for encouraging others to join a union. Sarah Bender was a barista at the 17th Street and 1st Avenue store. She says she became interested in joining the Retail Workers Union, a branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, after she heard about successes at the Madison Ave and 36th Street shop. The battle on Madison Avenue has led to Starbucks being called before the National Labor Relations Board on charges of union busting and threatening employees. Bender says once she brought up unions with her coworkers, similar actions occurred.
[Bender1]: Workers at my own store where getting interrogated and having closed door meetings with the manager. Some people were getting threatened to not get promoted if they were involved with me or involved with the union. A lot of things went on for about eight months before I got fired.
Business Week, June 3 by Stanley Holmes
For a company that calls its employees ``partners,'' Starbucks is plenty steamed over attempts by some to join a union. The National Labor Relations Board has set a June 15 hearing on claims that management engaged in illegal anti-union activity to keep employees at a New York Starbucks from joining the Industrial Workers of the World.
The IWW local says in the NLRB complaint that management threatened to withhold pay, spied on workers, and offered baseball tickets and health club passes to keep some from joining up. Starbucks officials deny the allegations. Says spokeswoman Audrey Lincoff: ``We are pro-partner, and we will not interfere in partners' right in any decision they choose to make.''
Starbucks workers announced last year they had formed the company's first North American union, at the store at 36th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan. The union isn't certified with the NLRB, but employee and organizer Daniel Gross said it has already won concessions, such as higher starting wages in New York and recognition of repetitive stress injuries, and is gaining members.
New York - On May 28th at 6:30pm Starbucks workers are demonstrating their right to join the Industrial Workers of the World - IU/660, also known as the Retail Workers' Union. Workers of Starbucks at 2nd Ave and 9th Street are demanding an immediate stop to all anti-union activity, reinstatement of Sarah Bender and Alex Diaz, affirmation of our right to organize, a living wage for all employees, guaranteed hours with the option for full-time status, consistent scheduling, an end to under-staffing, the right to organize, and respect from our bosses.
"In New York City we start at $8.25 an hour and are lucky to receive anything above 20 hours a week. Starbucks profits off our backs by depending on a low labor costs in the stores and from out sourced labor. They are the Wal-Mart of the coffee industry." Claimed Laura Deanda of 2nd and 9th.
Starbucks Barista Sarah Bender of 17th street and 1st Ave was fired unjustly for her legally protected union activity. Store manager Noura Glenn fired Sarah Bender, a Starbucks barista and active IWW union member on Tuesday May 24th. Starbucks Workers at 2nd Ave and 9th Street are taking action in response to illegal anti-union activity by the company. Starbucks management was aware of Bender's union involvement since early November 2004.
Baristas of the World, Unite!
You have nothing to lose but your company-mandated cheerfulness.
By Anya Kamenetz
Nothing seems amiss at Starbucks Coffee Store No. 7356, on the southwest corner of Madison Avenue and 36th Street. It has a nice view of a nineteenth-century Gothic Revival church. The familiar aroma of dark-roasted Sumatra curls through the air. Most of the staffers are no older than teenagers, but none betrays the slightest hint of sullenness—or simmering political rage. “Here you go, sweetie,” says a barista in blonde pigtails as she hands a grande iced chai over the counter. You’d never suspect that this little island of repose in the crush of midtown is a revolutionary cell. Unbeknownst to its customers (or “guests,” as they’re called), store No. 7356 birthed the first-ever campaign to unionize a Starbucks—a movement that renegade baristas hope will spread through the chain’s 6,668 other U.S. outlets.
The battle has been heated (in fact, steamed-milk injuries are one of the sticking points). Two workers were hauled off to jail. Others have been warned that union sympathies could cost them their jobs. And now Starbucks—used to PR snags no greater than public furor over $3.95 lattes—must go before the National Labor Relations Board next month on charges of bribery, threats, and other illegal attempts to prevent employees from organizing.