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(en) US, Riot Cops Illegally Detain Wobblies at Mall of America by Starbucks Workers Union*

Date Fri, 26 Sep 2008 09:08:44 +0300

Minneapolis, MN- The Starbucks Workers Union of the Industrial Workers of the
World announced today that it is filing Unfair Labor Practice charges against
the Mall of America, Metro Transit, and the City of Bloomington after fifty of
its supporters were sealed onto a train by police at the Mall of the America
station and denied the right to escort a union barista to his first day back on
the job after an anti-union termination. The union delegation was headed to the
Mall of the America Starbucks location on August 31st after a rally to celebrate
the reinstatement of barista Erik Forman which had been won through a
combination of direct action, a legal filing, and media advocacy.

"It was a surreal and deeply distressing experience to encounter heavily armed
riot cops blocking the doors of the train car and trampling on our right to
assembly. They even refused to let a diabetic child leave the train to get
medical attention," said Jake Bell, a barista and member of the Starbucks
Workers Union. "They told us the 'Mall doesn't want you here,' locked the doors,
and rerouted the train back to Minneapolis."

In the Mall, it became clear that a massive police buildup had been coordinated
with the FBI and Starbucks management to pre-empt a supposed 'protest' in front
of the Mall of America Starbucks. The Industrial Workers of the World had been
explicit with police that no protest was planned. The Union has released video
evidence documenting the unlawful interference with constitutional rights and
international law, available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnK3I_zDuk0

Forman had been illegally fired on July 10 for union activity, sparking an
outpouring of anger and disgust from baristas, customers and the general public.
The delegation escorting him back to his first day back on the job received
confirmation from transit police at both the Lake Street and Bloomington rail
stations that they should be allowed to enter the Mall provided that they did
not carry signs or disrupt business.

This is not the first time the IWW Starbucks Workers Union has experienced
rights violations during a political convention. At the Republican National
Convention in 2004, two IWW baristas were unlawfully arrested during a rally in
front of the Starbucks location in New York City where they worked. The charges
were successfully resolved and a lawsuit stemming from the event is currently
pending against various governmental defendants.


Background on the IWW Starbucks Workers Union

Baristas at the Mall of America location announced their affiliation with the
IWW on July 21 in a walkout protesting Starbucks store closures. The Union
baristas demand a fair severance package for affected workers, as well as
severance pay based on seniority and the right to transfer. The Union's core
demands also include a living wage, cost of living increases, and guaranteed hours.

While portraying itself as a 'socially-responsible' employer, Starbucks pays
baristas a poverty wage of $7.60/hr. In addition, all retail hourly workers at
Starbucks in the United States 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 two complaints against it and is awaiting a
decision by a judge in New York on more than 30 additional rights' violations.
Starbucks' large anti-union operation is 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 200 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
fighting for systemic change at the company and remedying individual grievances
with management. The SWU has been especially active in New York City, Chicago,
Grand Rapids, and Minneapolis.


Video: 50 Starbucks Workers Union Supporters Sealed into Train by Police

Video Release: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnK3I_zDuk0
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