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.
Then, help us alert everyone to Starbucks’ anti-union practices. The company announced a new ad campaign yesterday, asking people to look for Starbucks posters in six major cities across the country, take a photo and report them on Twitter. Here’s how we can flip this campaign to call out Starbucks for its anti-labor practices. From the Stop Starbucks website:
- 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.
These are great ways to grab the attention of Starbucks’ execs — Twitter bombs away!