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Starbucks Obstructing First US Union Vote

The Starbucks Baristas Union and community members across the country have condemned repeated attempts by the company to deny workers a fair vote on the Union. While paying lip-service to respecting the choice of employees, Starbucks has deployed a variety of crude tactics in an effort to defeat the IWW IU/660, which would be the first union certified in the United States at the mammoth chain.
Starbucks Obstructing First US Union Vote

posted by IU/660 on Tuesday June 01 2004 @ 11:44AM PDT

Contact:  starbucksunion@yahoo.com

Starbucks Obstructing First US Union Vote

Workers to Schultz: What are you so scared of?


New York, NY- The Starbucks Baristas Union and community members across the country have condemned repeated attempts by the company to deny workers a fair vote on the Union. While paying lip-service to respecting the choice of employees, Starbucks has deployed a variety of crude tactics in an effort to defeat the IWW IU/660, which would be the first union certified in the United States at the mammoth chain.

Supporters around the country and internationally are contacting Starbucks demanding they live up to their rhetoric. If Starbucks really is a bastion of worker benefits, what is Chairman Howard Schultz, who raked in over $17 million last year, so scared of? The truth is Starbucks, with its poverty wages and rampant repetitive-stress dangers, resembles a sweatshop more than it does a decent place to work.

The IWW released today the text they obtained of a voice mail Howard Schultz sent to employees around the company regarding the Union which Schultz calls, "very disappointing and disturbing."

"What we have here is classic union busting plain and simple," said Benjamin Ferguson, an IWW member working on the campaign. "They are using the same down and dirty tricks we see time and time again from highly successful corporations unwilling to give their workers a fair shake."

One the legal front, Starbucks has hired corporate law firm Akin Gump to argue that the workers in the store aren't entitled to a vote. Mr. Shultz is fond of saying the Starbucks Mission Statement requires respect and dignity for employees but apparently that does not include exercising the right to form a union. The IWW will face off with Starbucks on June 2 at a formal hearing at the National Labor Relations Board.

"Single stores within retail chains have long been presumed appropriate bargaining units," said Stuart Lichten of Kennedy, Schwartz, and Cure, the firm representing the Union. "We are confident we will prevail on the merits."

The company is also using scare tactics to intimidate workers. Management has been interrogating certain workers about the union while spreading misinformation about joining. At the same time, senior executives are in and out of the store constantly making sure workers feel the heat.

Starbucks earned a record $268 million last year on revenues of more than $4 billion. The company admits that Baristas add tremendous value to the enterprise yet refuses to pay them a wage that would bring them out of poverty.

Starbucks workers in New York City announced last month that they had formed a union with the IWW IU/660. The IWW is a union for all workers, dedicated to organizing on the job and in the community. IU/660 represents retail workers.

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Text of Voicemail Sent by Howard Schultz, Wednesday 5/19

Hello partners, this is Howard Schultz with a message for all of you. I wanted to take a moment and reach out to you regarding information that the company recently received. A local union in New York claims that some of our partners at the 36th and Madison location in New York City have expressed an interest in being represented by them.

While I recognize that this is related to only one store, this news is very disappointing and disturbing. Over the last 25 years, we have worked together to build a great company based on our core values and as a result have built great trust in one another. We always strive to live by our mission statement and guiding principles. And when we wrote the guiding principles, we very deliberately put creating a great work environment and treating everyone with dignity and respect as our highest priority.

Back in the earliest days of Starbucks, we did what others said could not be done - together we built a profitable company while integrating a social conscience into everything we do. We began offering comprehensive health care coverage and ownership in the company in the form of Bean Stock to full- and part-time partners. Those decisions were landmark events in our company history and our compassion for one another truly differentiates us. We have succeeded beyond everyone's wildest expectations. Today, we employ more than 80,000 partners around the world. And our commitment to our core values is as strong today as it was in those very early days of our company.

Because of the way we work together, we receive many accolades from the outside world for what we do - we're on the Fortune 100 Best Places to work list, the Most Admired Companies list, and much more. That recognition is great, but what's more important is that we have a caring and supportive culture. So please, if you ever have any concerns about our company, reach out to your local leadership, write to Mission Review, or use any of the many means we have to discuss and resolve issues and create a comfortable culture for everyone.

I want to conclude by simply thanking you for everything you do each day, and for being the real heart and soul of Starbucks. Thank you.

Source:  http://www.infoshop.org/inews/stories.php?story=04/06/01/5452060

Labor Links:

 http://www.retailworker.com/
 http://bari.iww.org/~iww-nyc/

Info on Starbucks at Infoshop:  http://www.infoshop.org/octo/matrix/index.php/Starbucks