Monday, July 21, 2008

Starbucks - Union Forms at Mall of America (from an e-mail)

Today at 10am, baristas at the Mall of America I Starbucks donned red-and-black union pins and walked off the floor to present their manager with a demand letter. They announced their affiliation with the Starbucks Workers Union, a campaign of the Industrial Workers of the World.

This is the first of many actions that have taken place in Starbucks stores around the city over the past few years of internal organizing, and the first action as a public union campaign. Exiting, yes! and we are asking for your support.

Welcome to the IWW's New Labor Solidarity List for the Starbucks Union Campaign. This list will be used to ask for your participation in this worker-driven campaign, and we are grateful for your support. Learn more about this campaign below!

Want to help?

* Join our solidarity committee and be one of the people planning out the support strategy for this campaign in partnership with those who work at Starbucks. Contact or call 612-245-4871 to get involved!
* Come to the press conference tomorrow at noon at the Mall of America's Northside Parking Lot and show your support for your fellow workers (press release attached).
* Stay on this email list and help out as you can with upcoming actions, by talking to your friends and co-workers, participating in actions of various kinds, or sending us your advice or support

Now back to the action…

The baristas demanded an option to transfer to other stores and a fair severance package for affected workers. Starbucks reportedly plans to give workers just one month notice before laying them off with a paltry two weeks' pay. The company will insist that some baristas transfer and will revoke severance pay if transfer offers are refused.

The protesting baristas are members of the Starbucks Workers Union, which is a campaign of the Industrial Workers of the World labor union. Starbucks previously backtracked on its refusal to disclose which locations would be shuttered after the union and others condemned the company for leaving workers in a nerve-wracking limbo.

The store action makes the Mall of America location the first Starbucks in Minnesota, and the first store in the Mall of America, to have a public union presence.

Erik Forman, a barista at the store recently fired for union activity, said, "With the skyrocketing cost of living, workers have no other choice than to stand up for improvements on the job. The alternative is a continued decline into poverty and a degraded quality of life for working families. But this doesn't have to happen. Our message is hope- even at Starbucks in the Mall of America, we can organize and fight!"

While portraying itself as a 'socially-responsible' employer, Starbucks pays baristas a poverty wage of $7.60/hr. In addition, all retail hourly workers at Starbucks in the United States are part-time employees with no guaranteed number of work hours per week. According to Starbucks figures released to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 40.9% of its employees (including managers) are covered by the company health care package, a lower percentage than the oft-criticized Wal-Mart, which insures 47% of its workforce.

Since the launch of the IWW campaign at Starbucks on May 17, 2004, the company has been cited multiple times for illegal union-busting by the National Labor Relations Board. The company settled two complaints against it and is awaiting a decision by a judge in New York on more than 30 additional rights' violations. Starbucks' large anti-union operation is operated in conjunction with the Akin Gump law firm and the Edelman public relations firm.
The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is a grassroots organization of over 200 current and former employees at the world's largest coffee chain united for secure work hours and a living wage. The union has members throughout the United States fighting for systemic change at the company and remedying individual grievances with management. The SWU has been especially active in New York City, Chicago, and Grand Rapids.

Union baristas, bussers, and shift supervisors have fought successfully toward improved scheduling and staffing levels, increased wages, and workplace safety. Workers who join the union have immediate access to co-workers and members of the community who will struggle with them for a better life on the job.

Thanks again for your support! We look forward to this and future struggles in the days to come,

Erik Forman, Jake Bell and the Starbucks Workers Organizing Committee
(and Brendan Rogers, David Boehnke, and the Twin Cities General Membership Branch of the IWW).


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