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(en) US, IWW*, Amid Union Pressure and Expansion, Starbucks Loosens Purse Strings

Date Mon, 16 Oct 2006 09:45:22 +0200

Wage Increase a Welcome Step But Flaws Abound
After a summer spent highlighting the poverty wage at the world's largest coffee
chain and expanding into the Chicago market, the IWW Starbucks Workers Union
[www.StarbucksUnion.org] has won a wage increase from the company. The raise will
benefit Starbucks employees in New York City, Chicago, and around the country.
In Chicago, starting pay for baristas has increased from $7.50 per hour to $7.80.
After six months, Chicago baristas will make $8.58 per hour if they receive a
favorable performance review. In New York City, baristas will make $9.63 per hour
after six months on the job and a favorable performance review. Senior baristas
will receive only a ten-cent raise to discourage long-term employment at Starbucks.

"We fought hard and this is a great union victory but
there's still a ways to go," said Isis Saenz, an IWW
member and Starbucks barista in New York. "Starbucks
Chairman Howard Schultz needs to accept that baristas
deserve a living wage and have a right to join a union
free of coercion."

Significant deficiencies persist with compensation for
Starbucks employees. The coffee giant is a 100%
part-time employer- employees lack any guaranteed work
hours. While the wage increase was a step in the
right direction, still low pay and lack of secure work
hours combine for a poverty pay package at Starbucks.
Despite an aggressive long-term PR campaign by
Starbucks casting itself as a leader in employee
health care, the majority of workers remain without
insurance from the company.

Senior Starbucks workers were given a
disproportionately low wage increase, reflecting a
trend of large-retailers like Wal-Mart trimming away
"costlier" long-term employees despite their
substantial contribution to the enterprise. The
performance review basis for the six-month raise is
problematic as well. Starbucks all too often issues
negative performance reviews to punish baristas who
challenge unjust company policies.

"It's great to have more money to try and make ends
meet," said Christine Morin, an IWW member and
Starbucks barista in Chicago. "At the same time we're
very aware that in conjunction with the more obvious
aspects of the Starbucks' union-busting campaign, this
wage increase is designed to preempt further IWW
growth at the company."

Starbucks has instructed store-level management to
hold one-on-one meetings with employees to claim that
a company survey was the reason for the increase, not
union pressure. Under this reasoning, Starbucks
needed a survey to know poverty wage employees desired
a raise. Starbucks has characterized past gains won
by the union as, "random acts of kindness." The
company does not respect the union's right to exist
and is waging a fierce anti-union campaign for which
it has been cited in a massive complaint by the
National Labor Relations Board.

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is a grassroots
organization of employees at the world's largest
coffee chain united for dignity at work. The union
has an organized presence at seven Starbucks locations
in New York City and Chicago fighting for systemic
change at the company and remedying individual
grievances. In New York City, the union has raised
the wage of many employees almost 25% in less than two
and a half years of organizing. IWW baristas have
also fought successfully for improved scheduling and
store 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.


* An antiauthoritarian anticapitalist syndicate
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