Lance Murdoch lancemurdoch at gmail.com
Sat Mar 11 11:38:01 MST 2006

On 3/10/06, Louis R Godena <louisgodena at ids.net> wrote:
> >From Gangbox, Greg Butler's construction union news service:
> The defeat of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union - and the union`s curious reluctance to face reality
> By a union activist
> Industrial Workers of the World IU # 660's Starbucks Workers Union made a noble effort to unionize 3 Starbucks stores in Downtown Manhattan. Despite their best intentions, the union activists involved basically bit off more than they could chew. After all, it is hard for 4 people to face off a multibillion dollar global retail giant, with a high turnover workforce and an elaborate system of on the job surveillance. So, the IWW was faced with coming up with an exit strategy. They actually did a good job of that. Sadly, the union has declined to face reality, and admit that a defeat is a defeat.

I have read this whole thing and it doesn't really seem to say
anything beyond this initial statement that the IWW Starbucks Workers
Union suffered a defeat.  I then read the entire thing to see why this
would be termed a defeat, but it is never explained.

Two pro-union workers were fired.  Starbucks offered to hire them
back, and also offered back pay.  This is what the dispute was over,
and it is clear to me that the workers won this dispute.  I'm not sure
how it is a defeat, and I thought the paragraphs following the initial
one (apparently Butler makes each sentence a paragraph) would explain
why it is, but he never does.

He just asks questions like "After all, how do you organize a
workforce largely composed of what sociologists call ``transitional
workers``" as if this is something the IWW organizers never thought
of.  The answer is it is certainly not an easy thing to do.  You do
not have "hot shops" calling up union reps, who then have an NLRB
election, and then have a steady stream of union dues rolling into
union coffers.  Which is why the labor lieutenants at the AFL-CIO do
not do this kind of organizing.  Which is why the IWW has stepped into
the gap.  If the fact that Starbucks workers are transitional makes
something a defeat (I'm grasping this as one of his reasons, since he
doesn't seem to explain what they are despite running on for a long
time), then the organizing is defeated before you begin, and you might
as well not do any organizing of Starbucks to begin with.

When workers began organizing, suddenly Starbucks ran in and offered
to fix problems, raise salaries and so forth in attempt to stave off a
union.  Even that was a minor victory - just the threat of forming a
union made the employer more receptive to workers demands.  Defeat is
a shop where no organizing attempts are made.

-- Lance

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