October 29, 2006

IWW Starbucks Baristas Crash Book Promo Event

New York, NY

Holding picket signs and handing out Howard Schultz “Most Wanted” flyers, union baristas and supporters protested the visit of the Starbucks Chairman to promote the coffee chain's first bookselling venture. Two campaign supporters entered the Park Avenue store where one of 25 promotional events around the country took place and unfurled a "Stop Union-Busting" banner. The two campaigners were forcibly removed by a Starbucks Regional Director. The baristas crashed the event to demand an end to the relentless anti-union campaign overseen by Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz who opted not to attend.

“Four IWW members are currently out of a job because of Howard Schultz’s animosity towards unions,” said Isis Saenz, a New York barista and IWW member. “Schultz is a billionaire and just made the list of the world’s richest people. What more does he want?”

While Starbucks is set to profit handsomely from its expansion into bookselling, baristas continue to languish in poverty with fluctuating work hours each week. Starbucks has fallen far short of the socially responsible image it seeks to create. Despite referring to itself as a leader in employee health care, the coffee giant insures a lower percentage of its workforce than Wal-Mart.

Starbucks has waged a fierce anti-union campaign against baristas joining the Industrial Workers of the World to gain an independent voice at work. The company agreed to refrain from spying, bribing, threatening, and terminating workers in a March settlement with the U.S. government triggered by charges from the IWW Starbucks Workers Union [www.StarbucksUnion.org]. However, Starbucks has continued union-busting with impunity including terminating workers for exercising their right to join the union.

Despite the unlawful anti-union campaign, baristas have won wage increases, more secure scheduling, and safety improvements through direct action on the job and in the community. The union currently has an organized presence at seven Starbucks locations in New York City and Chicago.




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