Monday, December 04, 2006

[olympiaworkers] This Holiday Season Remember the Starbucks Baristas Struggling for Justice

Monday, December 04 2006

Starbucks workers need your help to continue organizing a union with the
Industrial Workers of the World. With members at seven Starbucks locations
and growing, the IWW baristas are proving that workers at large
multinational retailers can gain an independent voice on the job. However,
we can't do it alone. The coffee giant is waging a fierce union-busting
campaign to defeat our organization and we need your financial support to
continue fighting for justice at work and in society.

This Holiday Season Remember the Starbucks Baristas Struggling for Justice

Sisters and Brothers,

Starbucks workers need your help to continue organizing a union with the
Industrial Workers of the World. With members at seven Starbucks locations
and growing, the IWW baristas are proving that workers at large
multinational retailers can gain an independent voice on the job. However,
we can't do it alone. The coffee giant is waging a fierce union-busting
campaign to defeat our organization and we need your financial support to
continue fighting for justice at work and in society.

A SWU Success Story

Sarah Bender joined the IWW Starbucks Workers Union after two months on
the job at the world's largest coffee chain. Like each and every Starbucks
barista in the United States, Sarah was a part-time employee. With her
schedule fluctuating unpredictably between 11 and 35 hours of work per
week, Sarah could not count on a steady paycheck to pay the bills. Her
irregular schedule meant that she often had to arrive at work at 5:00 a.m.
after a long commute only to be sent home just four hours later. Sarah's
precarious work life soon caused serious sleep problems. To get the
justice she deserved at work, Sarah decided to go union with the SWU.
Shamefully, Starbucks retaliated against her for exercising her
fundamental right to organize.

"I felt like I was walking on eggshells, always afraid that if I came a
minute late, or my register was off by pennies, I would face termination.
Starbucks certainly created an atmosphere of fear around the whole union
idea."

Soon after co-workers overheard the store manager complain that Sarah was
informing people about the union, Starbucks fired her. The SWU paid Sarah
an organizing stipend, on which she assembled a coalition opposing
Starbucks' unfair labor practices. She led several picket lines, and
successfully attracted local and national media attention. Meanwhile, the
SWU filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board. Sarah and
another employee won their jobs back, won a back pay award, and the NLRB
ordered Starbucks to cease and desist from its threats, bribes, and
surveillance aimed at driving out the SWU. Together Sarah and the SWU have
created more space to organize for every barista.

On May 17, 2004, workers at a midtown Manhattan Starbucks announced the
founding of the first union in the United States at the company. In less
than two and a half years of organizing, the Starbucks Workers Union has
won wage increases of almost 25% in New York City. Although the SWU's wage
gains are significant, Starbucks' entry-level wage of $8.75/hour is still
far from a living wage in NYC. Union workers have also won schedules that
are more consistent though Starbucks has yet to guarantee a minimum number
of work hours each week. Also, this summer the organizing drive expanded
to Chicago where Starbucks workers have already chalked up important
victories in compensation and safety.

Most importantly, as Isis Saenz explains, "Before I joined the Starbucks
Workers Union, I used to keep my head down and do anything management told
me. Now, I demand respect -- as a worker and as a human being." Sadly,
soon after uttering these words Isis was illegally fired for participating
in a union protest. She's now fighting for her job back.

The SWU has given its members a new sense of dignity, a sense that they
deserve respect. The SWU is poised to continue its growth through its
contacts with baristas around the country. Unfortunately, Starbucks'
paychecks are so small that there's little room for union dues. Currently,
dues are $6 per month. As a result, the SWU depends on donations from
people like you in order to succeed in building a union.

Here's how your donation will be spent:

* Stipends for organizers - All SWU organizers are currently unpaid. To
expand the campaign, we need to pay stipends to our otherwise unpaid
organizers to sustain their work.
* Campaign literature and other materials to accomodate the burgeoning
interest in the campaign around the world
* Strike Fund
* Office space

To make your contribution log on to
[http://starbucksunion.org/contribute]. Thank you in advance for your
solidarity and generosity. Together we can build a society where every
worker has a voice and can live with dignity.

In Solidarity,

Fundraising Committee IWW Starbucks Workers Union


http://www.iww.org/en/node/3044


http://www.starbucksunion.org/node/1126

http://www.retailworker.com/node/31258

1 comment:

Robert Whitlock said...

Thanks for posting this. It's clear that Starbucks has a lot of thinking to do about its moral and ethical bottom line!