Starbucks Baristas Get Steamed

9
Posted December 18, 2009 by eric.griffey in Blotch

Some of the baristas at the 8th and Rosedale Starbucks announced today that some of their employees have unionized, making them the first unionized Starbucks in Texas. Here is their press release:

Fort Worth, TX- Baristas and community supporters at the 8th and Rosedale Starbucks shut down the store’s drive-thru this morning and delivered a list of demands including affordable health care options and sick days for those displaying H1N1 or other cold and flu symptoms. Starbucks doubled the cost of the company health insurance plan in September, leaving many workers unable to afford treatment because of sky-high deductibles and premiums.

“We’ve had enough. Baristas should not be forced to expose customers to H1N1 or other contagions and stay sick longer, just in order to be able to make the money they need to support their families and pay astronomical health care costs. We’re making $7.30/hr., that’s a nickel above minimum wage,” said IWW Barista Michelle Cahill.

The protesting baristas are members of the Starbucks Workers Union, which is an international campaign of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union. The store action makes the 8th and Rosedale location the first Starbucks in Texas to have a public union presence.

Baristas decided to move toward unionization after many workers were forced to continue working while displaying intense H1N1 and other flu symptoms, enhancing the likelihood of spreading the flu virus. The baristas are demanding that those who display H1N1 or other cold and flu symptoms be excused from work with pay to avoid exposing customers to Swine Flu.

Casey Keeling, another union barista at the store, said, “Watching our coworkers be forced to serve customers while they were sick with H1N1 was the last straw. Something needs to change- in our workplace and in this country. We have decided to form a union to fight for affordable health insurance, paid sick days, a fair wage, and secure work hours. And they could at least give us a first aid kit for the store.”

While portraying itself as a ‘socially-responsible’ employer, all of Starbucks’ retail hourly workers in the U.S. are part-time employees with no guaranteed number of work hours per week. According to Starbucks figures released to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 40.9% of its employees (including managers) are covered by the company health care package, a lower percentage than the oft-criticized Wal-Mart, which insures 47% of its workforce.

Since the launch of the IWW campaign at Starbucks on May 17, 2004, the company has been cited multiple times for illegal union-busting by the National Labor Relations Board. The company settled numerous complaints against it and a judge’s guilty verdict on more than 30 additional rights’ violations was recently upheld on appeal by the Board in D.C. Starbucks’ large anti-union operation is headed by CEO Howard Schultz and operated in conjunction with the Akin Gump law firm and the Edelman public relations firm.

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is a grassroots organization of over 300 current and former employees at the world’s largest coffee chain united for secure work hours and a living wage. The union has members throughout the United States and Canada fighting for systemic change at the company and remedying individual grievances with management.

Union baristas, bussers, and shift supervisors have fought successfully toward improved scheduling and staffing levels, increased wages, and workplace safety. Workers who join the union have immediate access to co-workers and members of the community who will struggle with them for a better life on the job.


9 Comments


  1.  
    Erik

    Great job! This is so inspiring. Baristas all the way up in Minneapolis are watching and cheering you on!




  2.  
    RogerDog

    Ok now…expect coffee drinks to really go high! getting unions involved will only hurt the consumer. yes, the incremental wages may rise however SBX will have to charge YOU and I more money to compensate. Bad News. Keep the unions out of the coffee houses.




  3.  
    RogerDog

    P.S. I am also a professional Barrista.




  4.  
    The Bear

    You’re right, RogerDog. The employees of Starbucks should have to suffer low pay and expensive health care, because their corporate overlords mismanaged the company.




  5.  
    Hilary

    If living wages for Starbuck’s employees makes the coffee too expensive for you, make your coffee at home more often. If the only way you can afford fancy coffee is if other working-class people have live like peons, YOU clearly aren’t making enough money and should consider starting your own union. RogerDog, you seem worried about the fate of consumers but consumers and workers are the same people. More money in the pockets of workers means more money in the pockets of consumers. Wouldn’t that actually be good for business?




  6.  
    Stephanie

    Way to go! I support you in your quest for better working conditions. Keep up the good work!

    It is a myth that unions drive up consumer prices. Companies already make a huge margin of profit off their items. They spend millions each year on advertising. For the pennies more it would cost to pay their workers more, it would not affect prices at all.




  7.  
    mister caz

    yeah alright !
    Actions like this are the back bone of america.
    No one sane could be against this particular unionization.
    Keep up the good work folks.




  8.  

    Way to go. Perhaps the robber baron ceo of Starbucks might have to take a cut in his $15 million. Do you think he could live on $10 million?
    Might be tough. Long live the legendary IWW and the new generation of young workers building the middle class.




  9.  
    raisinhell

    Good Lord the lack of truth in this article is mind-boggling.

    A. No one in metroplex Starbucks are making $7.30/hr. That’s below the required starting rate – and guess what – if you make it to all of 6 months, you are already making over $8.
    B. Starbucks insurance plans have choices in levels of coverage – all are PPOs. Plans are as low as $40 per month for a partner, AND you only have to work an avg. of 20 hrs a week to be eligible for all benefits.
    C. No retail hourly workers have a set number of hours. It’s retail. And most partners accrue vacation pay which can be submitted for sick days also if needed. And if they accrue it slowly, it’s because they work very little, which means they also have the option of switching with someone on a day they don’t normally work when they’re well later in order to save up their vacation time – it’s really up to them.
    D. Most partners just received some good-sized checks this month from profit sharing they don’t pay into.
    E. The manager of this particular store was an idiot for not having a first-aid kit in the store – it was her responsibility to order it with her supplies. She’s also an idiot if she really made a sick partner work – it’s mean and against health code. She’s no longer with the company, anyway.

    Bottom line is – there are places they could go work instead of Starbucks to make more money per hour, but they might have to work full time to get benefits at all, and they might not have as flexible a schedule (ex. being able to squeeze in a 5 hr shift before 10am, and going to school full time as well). Pick your battles, baristas. I hope your Union dues don’t take up all your health coverage funds.

    OH AND WOB45 – Howard Schultz (CEO) took a salary of $10,000 in fiscal year 2009. Yeah – like as in $4.80/hr @ 40hrs a week.





Leave a Response

(required)


− 2 = one