Turns out Morning Joe has an anti-union agenda, as Media Matters documented. In a recent episode, Morning Joe brought on everyone’s least favorite economic fearmonger Jim Cramer, who claimed that if the Employee Free Choice Act passed, Wal-Mart (whose employees are in dire need of a union to negotiate better health benefits, working conditions, and wages above the poverty line) would be cut in half. Mika Brzezinski added unions “cripple the system that makes a company work.” And then Andrew Ross “I Shit on Unions for a Living” Sorkin of the NY Times threw down the absured gauntlet, “Name a successful unionized company. Think. You’re going to go to [commercial] break before you come up with one. And that’s the problem.”
While no one at Morning Joe dared prove Sorkin wrong, Media Matters’ Jamison Foser could name two prominent examples of successful unionized companies off the top of his head: GE and UPS. Both corporations allow workers to unionize, and both made enormous profits last year to the tune of over $18 billion and $3 billion, respectively. GE, it’s important to remember, owns MSNBC (and thus Morning Joe) via NBC-Universal. So one has to wonder if Scarborough and Brzezinski will face any repercussions for trashing their own parent company on air.
On last night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart ripped into the ugly synergy between Starbucks and Morning Joe. Apparently, Morning Joe is now “brewed by Starbucks.” And you know what that means, a hard-hitting interview in which Scarborough asks CEO Howard Schultz why the company antagonizes workers attempting to unionize and actively opposes the Employee Free Choice Act. Or maybe Scarborough would ask why Starbucks is willing to spend millions on legal fees to settle six labor disputes in the past three years, but pay employees an average of $7.75 an hour and preclude the majority of them from receiving healthcare. Think again!
Obviously, Morning Joe and MSNBC won’t be asking Starbucks tough questions anytime soon. That’s why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to Stop Starbucks and get the truth about this coffee giant out there.
Here comes my coffee spit take for the day. Starbucks just settled its sixth labor dispute in the past three years! According to the settlement, Starbucks must now allow Minneapolis-area workers to discuss unions and post union materials in break areas, and the company can no longer kick union sympathizers out of its stores.
This is a huge win for the IWW Starbucks Workers Union, an organization of over 300 current and former Starbucks employees — the David to Starbucks’ caffeinated, union-busting Goliath. Though really, it’s a big win for all Starbucks employees, since unionization would enable workers to negotiate set hours, fairer wages and better benefits for everyone.
Angel Gardner, a Twin Cities barista and member of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union, said, “This settlement proves that Starbucks executives are not above the law and cannot block hard working baristas from making positive change. How can Starbucks claim that it maintains a positive work environment when one labor case after another exposes its lack of respect for employees?”
As I’ve written previously, it’s deceptive for Starbucks to pretend to offer workers adequate wages and benefits. The reality is Starbucks routinely prevents employees from working enough hours to qualify for the company’s health insurance, and the average barista earns $7.75 an hour. Then, when workers attempt to remedy this problem by forming a union, Starbucks violates labor laws by firing or intimidating them, going so far as to actively oppose the Employee Free Choice Act.
Yesterday I started writing about the Stop Starbucks viral spiral. An extended piece that appeared in the LA Times today credited this campaign with undermining Starbucks’ recent multi-million dollar ad campaign, and then got into the crux of the matter:
The campaign against Starbucks was timed to coincide with the titanic congressional battle anticipated for organized labor’s major legislative goal: the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for U.S. workers to choose union representation.
Like most big businesses, Starbucks is opposed to the act. The coffee giant, which generates $10 billion a year in revenue, has joined forces with retailers Whole Foods and Costco in forming the so-called Committee for a Level Playing Field, which is backing what it calls a compromise plan.
“We stepped out to take an alternative position, and that makes us a target,” said Koster, the Starbucks vice president. “The video, for us, is a one-sided attempt at a lobbying campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act.”
The LA Times pretty much nails what’s going on here. Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Costco are masquerading as progressive companies when the reality is they’re attempting to water down a landmark piece of legislation regarding workers’ rights. It’s ironic Koster feigned offense and claimed Stop Starbucks is a “one-sided attempt at a lobbying campaign for Employee Free Choice,” considering how much lobbying Starbucks has down to taint this legislation. And it’s a damn shame that a $10 billion-a-year company that pretends to treat its workers fairly will do whatever it takes to keep employees from unionizing. It’s bad enough Starbucks terminates, discriminates, and violates labor laws. Now the company is also going out of its way to hamper legislation that both President Obama and Labor Secretary Solis support.
Since Brave New Films launched Stop Starbucks last week, over 50,000 people watched the video, “What do Starbucks and Wal-Mart have in common?” and 15,000 signed the petition insisting CEO Howard Schultz support his workers’ unionization efforts. The latest video, “Starbucks’ Health Care Policy Is Sickening,” takes the Wal-Mart comparison even further, considering Starbucks insures less than 42 percent of its employees in the US — a rate lower than Wal-Mart. Watch as a former Starbucks worker explains how Starbucks routinely precludes employees from working the 20 hours a week (or 240 hours per quarter) necessary to qualify for the company’s health insurance.
The shocking truth about Starbucks’ health care policy and anti-labor practices belie the company’s “progressive” veneer. Give Schultz a call and tell him to quit his anti-union ways: (206) 318-1575.
You can also enter the Stop Starbucks contest, which caught fire last week when Boing Boing, Bloggasm, and others credited Stop Starbucks with undercutting the company’s recent multi-million dollar ad campaign.
When Robert Greenwald first told us that our next campaign was going to be about Starbucks, a lot of us here at Brave New Films were very surprised. We’ve all had the “Starbucks experience;” smooth folksy music, leather couches, community book shelves, luxury drinks, and cheerful barista service. It just feels good to be inside a Starbucks, and why shouldn’t it? All around the store are signals that coffee makers and drinkers are part of a blissful, ethical community where everyone is taken care of with health care and dignity on the job. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says that workers should “believe in their hearts that management trusted them and treated them with respect…If they had faith in me and my motives, they wouldn’t need a union.”
I’m not naive enough to believe that a transnational mega corporation truly is all that it claims to be, but when our production teams started investigating Starbucks’ corporate response to coffee roaster and barista unions, I was shocked. Starbucks has forced store managers to work overtime without pay, fired people for talking about a union, discriminated in hiring against people with a past union affiliation, and is lobbying hard against the passage of EFCA. Oh, and those health benefits for “partners” they make a big deal about? You need to work 240 hours a quarter to be eligible – and anyone who has worked retail or service jobs part-time know that we have almost no control over the amount of hours that are set for us. Just to put it in perspective, Starbucks insures less than 42% of its workers – while Wal-Mart insures 47%.
The question of torture, and specifically the possible use of torture to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq, has been drowned out by the Washington drama of what Nancy Pelosi knew and when. In fact, none of the country’s five major newspapers has reported on an item that appeared in The Daily Beast on May 13—that Vice President Dick Cheney’s office “suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.” Leave that to the blogs.
The momentum to Stop Starbucks’ horrendous anti-labor practices is building. In just one day, 10,000 people have signed the memo insisting Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz allow workers to unionize. Meanwhile Starbucks drew the wrath of Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) yesterday. As members of Congress, union leaders, and clergy gathered for a Capitol Hill prayer breakfast to pray for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, Edwards declared she no longer held “coffee conversations” at Starbucks in her district because of the company’s opposition to this vital legislation.
As I wrote yesterday, Starbucks is part of the Orwellian-sounding Committee for Level Playing Field. (Notice the pattern with Starbucks speak. The company sticks to an “Optimal Scheduling” policy that is anything but optimal for its “partners,” which is the company’s clever name for workers, even though Starbucks routinely disrespects these employees by punishing them for participating in union activities.) Along with Whole Foods and Costco, Starbucks is pushing for a compromise on Employee Free Choice that would basically keep secret ballot elections in place that are prone to intimidation, without truly allowing for the union authorization card alternative proposed by the legislation. The Committee’s so-called compromise would also increase penalties for companies that discriminate against workers trying to unionize, which is ironic considering Starbucks is one of those companies and has repeatedly violated the National Labor Relations Act.
Now here’s the fun part. There’s a lot you can do to let Starbucks know they should stop harassing workers for exercising their rights to unionize and negotiate for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. Starbucks currently has a site, My Starbucks Idea, calling for ideas from people to “shape the future of Starbucks.” This is a great chance to tell Starbucks what you really think. Here’s what I wrote, head to the site and vote it up or submit your own idea:
Allow Your Workers to Unionize
An increasing number of Starbucks employees want to join a union to negotiate fairer wages, benefits, and working conditions. And in just one day, 10,000 people have joined the Stop Starbucks campaign (http://stopstarbucks.com/), signing a memo to Starbucks’ billionaire CEO Howard Schultz insisting he allow workers to unionize. If Starbucks is truly the progressive company it pretends to be, it will allow workers to unionize without fear of reprisals.
Starbucks has a nasty history of being anti-barista, anti-union, and thus anti-Employee Free Choice Act as well. The National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly found Starbucks guilty of illegally terminating, harassing, intimidating, and discriminating against employees attempting to unionize. Late last year, a judge ruled Starbucks had committed over a dozen violations of the National Labor Relations Act at a few New York stores. Starbucks has settled five such labor disputes in the last few years in New York, Minnesota, and Michigan, spending millions on legal fees to avoid exposing their anti-worker ways.
Howard Schultz has said if workers “had faith in me and my motives, they wouldn’t need a union.” If Schultz really wants workers to trust him, Starbucks wouldn’t go to such great lengths to keep workers from joining a union.
Make a sign and take a photo of yourself with it in front of a Starbucks poster or Starbucks store and post it to TwitPic.com. This site automatically uploads your photo and comment to your Twitter page. Our message is focused on Starbucks’ anti-labor practices, but feel free to point out other company practices with which you disagree. (See photo above for an example.)
In your post, write what was on your sign or something else like: “Thanks a latte for nothing, Mr. Schultz,” Spill the beans about Starbucks’ union busting,” or “Mr. Schultz, let your workers unionize!”
Use these two hashtags in your post: #top3percent and #starbucks. (Just copy-paste them to the end of your message.) The first hashtag is the one Starbucks is using for the contest and assures their execs will see it, and the second is for people who check out Starbucks on Twitter. It’s important to include these in your post.
Both corporate giants have long track records of harassing their workers when it comes to joining unions. Harassment and intimidation are illegal under Federal law, and we won’t stand for it. Tell Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ billionaire owner, to respect the people who work for Starbucks.
“The regional manager literally told us that we weren’t allowed to invite people to union meetings…that’s the same kind of violation that you see at Wal-Mart,” said Erik Forman, a former Starbucks employee fired for union organizing.
Starbucks, like retail giant Wal-Mart, has a well-established history of breaking labor laws. The company has spent millions settling five labor complaints in the past few years alone, and it has fought hard against the Employee Free Choice Act in an attempt to continue intimidating workers hoping to unionize. In 2005, we took on Wal-Mart for their assault on workers with Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. Now we are exposing Starbucks’ atrocious labor practices in our newest campaign, Stop Starbucks.
Sign the memo insisting Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz allow workers to unionize. Help us reach 50,000 signatures before Congress votes on the Employee Free Choice Act. We will deliver the petition to Schultz, sending the clear message that corporations should support this vital legislation.
There are over 127,000 baristas in our country alone, many of whom are in dire need of better wages, health benefits, and hours. Shouldn’t they have the right to be treated fairly? Sign the memo and tell Schultz to stop his mistreatment of workers.
Put down that grande non-fat caramel macchiato or whatever Starbucks concoction you’re drinking. Turns out the coffee giant has a history of being anti-barista, anti-union, and thus anti-Employee Free Choice Act.
In fact, Starbucks’ nasty labor practices make the company look an awful lot like Wal-Mart. The National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly found Starbucks guilty of illegally terminating, harassing, intimidating, and discriminating against employees attempting to unionize. Starbucks has settled five labor disputes in the last few years in New York, Minnesota, and Michigan, spending millions on legal fees to avoid exposing their anti-worker ways. And Starbucks has led the charge on a so-called Employee Free Choice Act “compromise,” which would require 70 percent of workers to sign union authorization cards instead of the much more manageable 50 percent initially proposed by this legislation.
We’ve known for a while where Starbucks billionaire CEO Howard Schultz stands on unions. After all, it was Schultz who once said that if workers “had faith in me and my motives, they wouldn’t need a union.” While Starbucks pretends to be pro-barista, claiming to offer workers decent wages and health insurance, these “progressive” policies are less substantive than the company’s frothy milk-based beverages. The reality is, as Liza Featherstone has noted, Starbucks insures a lower percentage of its workers than Wal-Mart.
Less than 42 percent of Starbucks’ 127,000 baristas in the U.S. are insured by the company, whereas Wal-Mart insures 47 percent of its employees. To make matters worse, Starbucks offers its workers wages similar to those earned by Wal-Mart employees, and Starbucks does not guarantee workers set hours. Instead, the company follows an Optimal Scheduling policy that requires baristas to make themselves available 70 percent of open store hours just to work full time in any given week. This means that low-wage earning baristas do not have time to take a second job. Moreover, it precludes tens of thousands of Starbucks employees from working the 240 hours per quarter needed to qualify for the company’s health insurance.
Brave New Films is gearing up to take on Starbucks with the same tenacity used in the fight against Wal-Mart. Tomorrow, BNF will spill the beans about Starbucks’ labor practices with the first video in its newest campaign, Stop Starbucks. In the meantime, sign the memo to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz insisting he allow workers to unionize.