[Marxism] 3rd US Starbucks Goes IWW
hooverm at scc-fl.edu
Sat Nov 26 09:45:36 MST 2005
3rd US Starbucks Goes IWW
Industrial Workers of the World www.iww.org
UNION SQUARE STARBUCKS PICKET 4pm-7pm this coming Black Friday, November 25th.
"Don't Cross Our Picket Lines!" means we're discouraging people from going
inside. Picketers are asked to put 5 bucks in the tip jar if they can spare it.
Tell friends and allies. Spread the word.
By Tommy NYC
Workers at Third U.S. Starbucks Go Union -- Baristas Demand Guaranteed Work
New York, NY- 25 Starbucks baristas and supporters wearing union pins and
hats surrounded the store manager at the Union Square location in Manhattan
tonight to announce their membership in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union
(http:// www.starbucksunion.org). The workers, joined by union baristas
other New York Starbucks stores, demanded a guaranteed minimum of 30 hours
of work per week and an end to Starbucks' unlawful anti-union campaign.
The Union will assail Starbucks with a wide array of actions until the
demands are met.
One of the workers, 23 year-old Tomer Malchi, served the store manager
with a document detailing the demands and several other workers directed
comments at the boss to be relayed to more senior management. Suley
Ayala, a mother of four who has worked at Starbucks for three years,
was one of the workers who spoke. She explained after the event: "it
should go without saying that we can't live on ten, eleven, or twelve
hours of work some weeks. The 30 hour guarantee is absolutely necessary
to make ends meet and Starbucks knows it."
The workers were motivated to organize in part because of Starbucks'
status as one of the few companies in the world with no full-time
employment for non-managerial employees. An initiative of Starbucks
Chairman Howard Schultz, the part-time scheme forces workers to
contend with a constantly fluctuating number of work hours, and
therefore, constantly fluctuating income. For example, a Starbucks
barista could receive 35 hours of work one week, 18 hours the week
after, and as low as single-digits in the following week. The
world's largest coffee chain sacrifices employees' financial
security in the name of cost-control and "flexibility." This comes
from a company whose mission statements talks of, "provid[ing]
a great work environment."
Starbucks barista Mike Velasquez spoke of the personal reasons
underlying his decision to join the Starbucks Workers Union. "My
daughter is my first priority period," he said. "Anything that
comes in the way of that is going to have a problem. Starbucks
falls into that category."
Myth v. Reality
Given the reality of working at Starbucks, the company's creation
of a socially responsible image is testament to its public relations
prowess. The company boasts of providing health care eligibility even
for its part-time workers (never mentioning that all of its retail
hourly workers are part-time). The fact is that an employee must
work 240 hours each quarter to become eligible for health insurance.
Because of the lack of guaranteed hours, meeting the quarterly hour
requirement is far from assured. For workers who do qualify there
are still the premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, and these are costs
extremely difficult to manage for employees making six, seven, or
eight dollars an hour. Incredibly, Starbucks, the self-proclaimed
leader on the issue of employee health care, will not release the
number of retail hourly workers that actually receive company health
benefits. Even Wal-Mart releases that number. In fact, the recently
leaked memo from Wal-Mart that advocated increasing
part-time employment to cut health insurance costs is ancient
history at Starbucks. Howard Schultz made that move years ago -
but he degraded all jobs to part-time.
The workers demanded respect for the right to organize in the
face of a relentless [anti-]union-campaign launched by the company in
2004 after the formation of the Starbucks Workers Union. The
company has already been hit with a complaint from the National
Labor Relations Board for threats, bribes, and surveillance in
their attempt to defeat the union.
"I am so pleased to welcome the Union Square East baristas to
the Starbucks Workers Union," said Pete Montalbano, a union
barista at an East Village Starbucks and himself a recipient
of anti-union discrimination. "Given the widespread discontent
at the company, it comes as no surprise that more and more
workers are making the decision to go union."
Starbucks, known for inundating neighborhoods with its stores,
is an extremely profitable company. On November 17, the company
announced that quarterly earnings had jumped 21% to $124 million.
Chairman Howard Schultz who also owns the Seattle Supersonics is
doing well too with an estimated net worth of $700 million.
The IWW's unique solidarity union structure allows any Starbucks
worker to join at anytime and begin the fight for a better life
at work. Since its founding, the Starbucks Workers Union has
pressured the company into a .50 cent an hour wage increase,
an unprecedented holiday bonus, and steps toward alleviating
the rampant repetitive strain injuries among baristas.
"Companies like Starbucks, Borders, Wal-Mart, the Gap, and
McDonald's have gotten a free pass from the labor movement for
far too long. Retail workers at some of the world's most
profitable companies deserve better than a poverty existence
for our hard work," remarked Daniel Gross, an IWW member and
Starbucks barista. "The only solution is a fighting union."
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