Sisters and Brothers,
Going back to 2004 and continuing to the present, you and your labor unions around the world have risen up in solidarity with IWW baristas at Starbucks and against union-busting by the company. Your support and identification with the grassroots struggle of workers at the world's largest coffee chain was instrumental in yesterday's court victory. This is YOUR victory, a victory for all working people. As corporate dominance continues to crumble from Greece to Chicago to Ecuador, please stay with us as we move toward ultimate justice against Starbucks.
The New York Times article on the court victory is here:
December 24, 2008
Starbucks Loses Round in Battle Over Union
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE, New York Times
A National Labor Relations Board judge ruled on Tuesday that Starbucks had illegally fired three baristas and otherwise violated federal labor laws in seeking to beat back unionization efforts at several of its Manhattan cafes.
The administrative law judge, Mindy E. Landow, found that Starbucks had also broken the law by issuing negative job evaluations to union supporters and prohibiting employees from discussing the union even though the employees were allowed to discuss other subjects not related to work.
“The judge’s ruling shows that this company has trampled on workers’ rights to organize a labor union,” said one of the fired baristas, Daniel Gross, who is a longtime leader of the effort by the Industrial Workers of the World to unionize Starbucks workers in New York, Minnesota, Michigan and other states.
Judge Landow ordered that Mr. Gross and the two other baristas be reinstated to their jobs and receive back wages. She also ordered Starbucks to pledge to end what she said was discriminatory treatment toward workers who supported the union at four of its Manhattan shops: 200 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, 145 Second Avenue at 9th Street, 15 Union Square East and 116 East 57th Street.
Starbucks was quick to voice its dismay with the ruling.
“While we respect the N.L.R.B. process, we’re disappointed with the decision, and we intend to appeal it to the next stage in the process,” said Tara Darrow, a spokeswoman for Starbucks. She said the company was disappointed that the decision did not take into consideration what she said where personal threats lodged against managers.
Ms. Darrow said the company was proud of its tradition of communicating with its employees directly, and not through a union. “We believe that at the end of this, our policies and approach will be deemed fair and consistent.”
The judge’s ruling grows out of charges that the labor board’s Manhattan office brought against Starbucks in April 2007.
In March 2006, Starbucks reached a settlement with the union, agreeing to pay $2,000 in back pay and reinstating two other New York baristas who the labor board said had been fired illegally as part of an effort to quash unionization. Judge Landow ruled against Starbucks on most issues, finding that its managers had improperly barred employees from wearing more than one pro-union button and had illegally prohibited workers at its Union Square East store from posting union items on a company bulletin board.
The judge also ruled that a Starbucks manager had illegally prohibited employees from talking about wages and other terms of employment.
But the judge found that Starbucks managers did not improperly discriminate when they prohibited two union supporters from wearing what the managers said were overly obtrusive necklaces.
The 88-page ruling describes a bitter and escalating battle between Starbucks and the union since it began its organizing drive in 2004. The union has repeatedly sought to pressure Starbucks, demonstrating outside shops and handing petitions to management demanding improvements in working conditions.
The company asserted that the fired employees were terminated for legitimate reasons, including insubordination, disrespectful conduct, using profane language and poor work performance. But Judge Landow found that the three fired employees — Mr. Gross, Joe Agins Jr. and Isis Saenz — were fired because of their pro-union activities.
Judge Landow’s decision noted that Starbucks tried to keep close track of union supporters, going so far as to disseminate “what information it received regarding off-duty employee gatherings, such as parties, where recruiting was suspected.”
“This decision conclusively establishes Starbucks’ animosity toward labor organizing,” said Stuart Lichten, a lawyer for the union. “For the first time, a judge has confirmed the existence of a nationally coordinated antiunion operation at Starbucks.”