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(en) Starbucks workers joining IWW in global fight for labor rights

Date Sun, 15 Oct 2006 17:55:07 +0200


Picket lines are appearing at Starbucks outlets around the world, as word
spreads of the coffee giant’s firing of three IWW members for union activity
between July 11 and August 5. Workers were illegally fired on pretexts ranging
from insubordination to undermining employee morale as Starbucks grows ever
more desperate to crush the union’s growing support.
The German FAU union wrote Starbucks August 19 to protest the firings of Charles
Fostrom, Evan Winterscheidt, Daniel Gross and Joe Agnis (a union supporter fired
earlier), and warning of actions at Starbucks outlets across Germany if they were
not reinstated. In Vienna, the Allegmeines Syndikat Wien has leafleted all Starbucks
outlets in that city, alerting customers to the company’s vicious union-busting.

New Zealand’s Unite union, which won a landmark fast food
agreement with Restaurant Brands Ltd. earlier this year, issued a
statement expressing “disgust at Starbucks’ clear
discrimination against the union.” The Korean Teachers Union
(Incheon Working Group) of the KCTU also condemned the firings,
expressing unequivocal support for the “IWW Starbucks
Workers Union’s [right] to represent and defend the rights of all
Starbucks employees.”

IWW members have demonstrated outside Starbucks outlets in
Bradford, Leicester and Manchester, England, and Edinburgh,
Scotland. IWW members and supporters picketed the East McMillan
Starbucks in Cincinnati August 19, distributing hundreds of leaflets
to alert customers to Starbucks’ union-busting. In Washington,
D.C., Wobblies picketed the Dupont Circle Starbucks August 28,
speaking to customers and workers. They picketed the Adams
Morgan store Sept. 11, launching roving pickets at Starbucks
locations throughout the city. Boston Wobblies held a successful
Solidarity Night fund-raiser Sept. 9, raising nearly $400 to assist the
fired workers and spread the word about Starbucks’ assault on
its workers. Musicians including Dieselhorse, Evan Greer, Jake and
the Infernal Machine, Clara Hendricks, Bill Bumpus and Ryan
Harvey performed, and speakers spoke about the Starbucks
campaign between sets.

Growing numbers of union locals have added their voices to the
demand that Starbucks reinstate the fired workers, including SEIU
Local 707, representing 6,500 public sector workers of Sonoma and
Mendocino Counties in California; Amalgamated Lithographers of
America Local One, a Teamsters affiliate in New York City; and
United Auto Workers Local 2334, which represents sanitation
chemists in Detroit. Other organizations calling on members to
boycott Starbucks until all fired union activists are reinstated include
the National Lawyers Guild and the revived Students for a
Democratic Society.

“The Guild is proud to stand in solidarity with the IWW baristas
at Starbucks in their fight for a living wage and an independent voice
on the job,” said Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the
National Lawyers Guild in a widely distributed press release.
“Starbucks should ashamed to be cashing in on a socially
responsible image when the company is in reality a serial violator of
labor rights.”

In Edinburgh, Wobblies leafleted the High Street Starbucks August
19, beginning the action by entering the store to speak with
employees. A barista came up and asked for leaflets to share with
co-workers even as the manager was telling the IWWs that no one
was interested. Police arrived soon afterward, threatened one
Wobbly with arrest, and then stood down. Hundreds of leaflets were
distributed, and dozens of would-be coffee drinkers (including a
marching band in town for the annual festival) turned away. A
Barista from another Starbucks came up and asked for leaflets to
distribute at his store.

On campuses across the United States, students are launching the
Justice From Bean to Cup! (www.starbucksunion.org/bean2cup)
campaign calling for the reinstatement of the fired baristas and fair
compensation for coffee farmers.

Starbucks’ workers fight for their rights continues in the streets,
before the National Labor Relations Board, and in growing numbers
of Starbucks outlets

http://www.iww.org/en/node/2938
================================
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