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(en) US, New York, First in Nation, Starbucks Workers Form Union

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 18 May 2004 11:17:09 +0200 (CEST)

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For Immediate Release: May 17, 2004 Industrial Workers of the World
Contact: Daniel Gross (917)577-1110 dgross1959 (at) yahoo.com
First in Nation, Starbucks Workers Form Union Baristas Petition for Election
New York, NY- Starbucks workers here have organized a union with the
Industrial Workers of the World IU/660 and have submitted union cards today to the
NLRB for a certification election. The workers are poised to become the first
Starbucks Baristas union certified in the country. Starbucks Baristas at the 36th
and Madison location in Midtown Manhattan have come together in an effort to raise
themselves out of poverty as well as to achieve respect and dignity on the job.
The workers are calling on Starbucks to obey the law as the election approaches.

“Behind the green aprons and smiles are individuals living in serious
poverty,” said Daniel Gross, a worker at the store. “Baristas are the cornerstone of
a Starbucks coffee shop, we just deserve better. Starbucks cashes in on a
community friendly image but it certainly doesn’t extend to their workers or
coffee farmers. That’s why we went Union.”

Starbucks is a $15 billion company with over 7,500 locations around the
world, but workers have most emphatically not shared in their success. In New York
City with one of the highest costs of living in the world, Starbucks workers
start at $7.75 an hour and eventually receive raises amounting to merely a few
cents. Starbucks has also developed a scheme whereby all Baristas work on a
part-time basis and are not guaranteed any amount of hours per week thus making
it exceedingly difficult for workers to budget for necessities like rent,
utilities, and food.

“I come to work and I work hard,” said Maureen Medianero, 23, who has worked
at Starbucks for almost 2 years. “But I’m still hanging on by a shoe string
not knowing if I can make ends meet to support my daughter. It’s frightening.”

Although Starbuck workers serve an enormous volume of beverages, many of them
extremely hot, in order to save money management refuses to schedule enough
workers to do the required work safely. Instead, workers are forced to perform
their duties at unsafe speeds with an undue level of physical exertion.

“A Starbucks coffee shop is an ergonomic minefield. The stores are supposed
to mimic an Italian cafe without considering the uncomfortable bending and
reaching we have to do,” explained Barista Anthony Polanco. “This isn’t your mom
and pop coffee shop, we’re talking McDonald’s busy every day. Starbucks talks
about ‘Creating Warmth’ but the only warmth I feel is the heat pad at the end
of the day.”

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), founded in 1905, is a union
dedicated to workplace democracy. IWW IU/660 represents workers in the retail

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