Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Starbucks still trying to stop employees from organizing - at any cost

The suits who run Starbucks, the world's biggest coffee chain, continue to show that they'll stop at almost nothing to prevent their employees from organizing. A recent report from the Industrial Workers of the World chronicles in detail some of the dirty tactics the company is using to block unionization:
The New York branch of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union held an energetic eight-hour picket outside two separate Starbucks locations. Originally planned as a “loose informal picket” outside the Union Square East Starbucks location, managerial stupidity and increased union-busting activity on the part of Starbucks turned it into a media circus and all night protest. Between the time when the picket was planned and when it actually took place, Starbucks decided to fire yet another union barista, Sharon Bell, from the 17th and Broadway location, conveniently located across the park from Union Square East.

The picket was called to protest the recent wave of Starbucks layoffs and draw attention to the refusal of Starbucks to pay severance, in spite of claiming in several press releases to the media that they will be providing severance pay to all laid off workers. The message was expanded to include the demand for the reinstatement of Sharon Bell and an immediate end to the illegal, unethical, nationally coordinated union-busting operations of Starbucks Coffee.

An hour before the picket was to take place, union organizer and barista at Union Square East, Liberte Locke started receiving phone calls from members of the press inquiring as to whether or not the picket was still happening.

Apparently when photographers and camera people showed up early to scout the location they were greeted by someone with a clipboard claiming to represent the union and they were told the picket was canceled.
According the IWW, the actual picket became very tense when cops from the New York Police Department showed up and began intimidating the protesting workers. Fortunately, the picket didn't end with an ugly scene, but there might have been one... if reporters hadn't been present.

That raises an important question: what would have happened with no press watching? Would workers have needlessly been harassed and arrested?

It's not like it hasn't happened before.

If we cannot hold big corporations accountable democratically through our representatives, what alternatives do we have?

Do we have to encourage everyone to carry their own video cameras everywhere and record everything? Is that enough?


Blogger Terryx999 said...

Employees are exactly that; employees. If an employee objects to his working conditions, or thinks he is being treated unfairly, he should quit.

Find another job, or better yet create your own. If unions really existed to foster a better working enviroment at a better wage they woundn't make you pay dues.

As it stands though, unions are just an arm of organized crime, with little concern for anyone or anything other then themselves. Unions have morphed American workers into a greedy, lazy, and do-nothing mentality therby forcing American companies to ship their jobs overseas.

So, what is better for America? Jobs here? or Jobs overseas? 'The suits who run Starbucks' or your union dues that bankroll the Meth being sold to your kids?

Man-up! Get out of the union and take responsibility for yourself.

April 5, 2009 2:12 PM  
Blogger John said...

> If an employee objects to his working conditions, or thinks he is being treated unfairly, he should quit.

This belief is based on the false assumption that there are many choices available to people who do not own a lot of capital. The amount of actual "consent" that employees have when choosing a job is described here:

> Find another job, or better yet create your own.

Or do what the Argentines did - assume democratic control of their companies. There's a documentary on this:

April 10, 2009 11:51 AM  

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