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Half A Million California Workers Get A Raise And A Seat At The Table

In the realm of burgers and fries, California’s hot labor summer is sizzling. In a remarkable reversal of fortune, the state’s fast-food worker movement, created and steered by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), has compelled the giants of the fast-food industry (both national stalwarts like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Starbucks and local legends like In-N-Out) to withdraw their opposition to raising their workers’ wages and establishing a statewide labor-business board to deal with industry issues. Last year, after the legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that established such a council to raise those wages, the industry announced it would put $200 million behind a ballot measure it had devised to overturn that law.

Buffalo: Starbucks Workers, Volunteers Hold City-Wide Pickets

Buffalo, New York - As part of the Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) Bus Tour, Starbucks workers and volunteers in Buffalo, New York, demonstrated the power of the Starbucks unionization campaign in the face of corporate resistance. To bolster their efforts,  dozens of Starbucks workers traveled to Buffalo on July 26, to spread information concerning the company’s egregious union busting and breaking of labor laws. The Bus Tour displayed working-class power in a united front for fair compensation and protection from Starbucks’ actions. Informational pickets were dispersed around Buffalo. Customers and passersby were asked if they had previously heard of Starbucks’ union busting and were given information on Starbucks’ unofficial policy toward union workers.

Long Island Starbucks Workers March On Boss Who Fired Employee

Yesterday, baristas from Farmingville Starbucks in Long Island and their union allies marched on the Starbucks regional corporate headquarters in Manhattan to demand the reinstatement of a shift leader who they say was fired for his union activity — and to confront their former boss who sacked him. Brendan Lopez was an outspoken leader in the fight to get his Farmingville Starbucks unionized. He participated in every strike at the store and advocated for the union in the media. His efforts were successful — the Farmingville location unionized last summer in a 13-1 decision, making them the first location in Suffolk County to unionize.

How The Labor Movement Is Showing Up For LGBTQ+ Rights

At any march for rights there’s no shortage of creative chants. This year in New York City at the annual Queer Liberation March, a new one debuted. Playing on the lyrics to RuPaul’s “Cover Girl,” queer rights activists chanted “Socialists, put that bass in your walk! Unionize, let the whole workplace drop!” This was one of several labor-themed chants from a Left and Labor contingent which formed to amplify a labor movement that increasingly represents the LGBTQ+ community and is organizing for LGBTQ+ rights. Left Voice, an all-volunteer socialist publication, initiated the contingent. Around two dozen unions and politically left organizations joined the initiative, endorsing it, bringing out their members and publicizing the march.

Thousands Strike Over Starbucks Anti-LGBTQ+ Policies

In addition to firings, Starbucks has leveraged its own benefits against LGBTQ+ workers. Starbucks has offered various types of coverage for gender-affirming health care procedures, which were then held hostage against workers after the launch of the union campaign. Many LGBTQ+ workers were told that if they voted for the union, they might lose their coverage — the implication being “vote no, or we take it away.” Many of these procedures can be lifesaving, and for Starbucks to hold them over trans workers’ heads is violent and coercive.

Starbucks Agrees To Settlement For Violating Workers Rights In Seattle

Starbucks agreed to a settlement with the NLRB and Starbucks Workers United that will compensate nearly a dozen unionized employees in Seattle who were illegally discriminated against throughout the fall of 2022. In August, managers called for volunteers to work at a mobile Starbucks bar the company operates at Husky Stadium during University of Washington football games. The opportunity was advertised in a Facebook post the responsibilities and promised an extra $3-an-hour in base pay and perks that included food, drinks, and free parking. The ad, posted in a group for Seattle-area baristas with over 1300 members, contained one caveat: “This is only open to non union partners at this moment.”

Why The Fight To Unionize Starbucks Matters To Us All

For good reason, the fight to unionize Starbucks has drawn considerable public attention since workers at a Buffalo, New York store voted to unionize in December of 2021. Since that time, workers at more than 300 stores, representing more than 8000 workers, have so voted. The campaign has been met with strong company resistance, resulting in legal rulings that found Starbucks violating federal labor law by (among other things) illegally surveilling workers, firing workers involved in union organizing, and adding workers at specific workplaces to dilute union strength. In an eventful year-and-a-half, the company has failed to negotiate a single contract.

US Labor Agency Rejects Starbucks’ Effort To Obtain Records Of Worker Communications With Media

A judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined it was unlawful for Starbucks to request records of communications between unionized workers and news media organizations. The decision [PDF] reversed a prior ruling from a United States court, which upheld subpoenas issued to 21 workers that were sought by Starbucks to help the corporation defend against allegations that they engaged in unfair labor practices against Starbucks Workers United. Under the National Labor Relations Act, workers are guaranteed a right to form a union. They are also supposed to be protected from interference, restraint, or coercion by an employer that may be intended to prevent them from unionizing.

Starbucks Union Workers Have A New Strategy To Win A First Contract

It’s a truism in labor circles that winning a first contract can be even more difficult than winning a union election. The ongoing year-plus battle between Starbucks and its unionizing baristas is proving that adage correct. According to data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), as of May 10, workers had won union elections at 308 Starbucks stores since December 2021 — yet not a single shop has come close to reaching a first contract. (Each Starbucks that has unionized is legally a separate bargaining unit organized into Workers United, an SEIU affiliate.) The barista network Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) has made over a dozen proposals to date that serve as a basis for each store’s bargaining.

Workers To Starbucks: Time To Negotiate

At Starbucks regional headquarters in Manhattan on May 1, staff were setting up an office pizza party when they heard a chant coming from the hallway of their fifteenth floor glass-enclosed office. “Who are we? We are partners! Who are we? We are workers!” chanted a dozen Starbucks workers as they filled the reception area, many wearing shirts saying “Partners? Prove It. WE are Starbucks.” Headquarters staff fled into back offices as the café workers traded off reading sections of a written statement with their demands—the chief one being that the company negotiate with the union and stop retaliating against workers for organizing.

The Undercover Organizers Behind America’s Union Wins

If you want to unionize a workplace, Will Westlake was saying, get used to unclogging the drains. At a secret off-hours gathering held in Rochester, New York, in March, the 25-year-old former barista told a few dozen labor activists that a great way to build trust with co-workers and bosses is to volunteer for thankless chores. In his case, that meant spending months at a Starbucks outside Buffalo in 2021 getting on his knees and reaching beneath the sinks to yank loose the grimy mix of mocha chips, espresso beans, congealed milk and rotten fruit that regularly stopped things up. “Be the person who’s willing,” Westlake said. “It’s going to make the company less suspicious of you.”

What Unionized Starbucks Workers Think Of Howard Schultz’ Testimony

The latest round in the fight between Starbucks and its nascent barista network — Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) — came to a head on Wednesday with the appearance of former CEO and current board member Howard Schultz at the Senate Committee on Housing, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). “It was honestly hard not to laugh out loud at some of the [bald-faced] lies he told,” said James Greene, a fired Starbucks shift supervisor in the Pittsburgh area. “He denied breaking the law repeatedly as senators were listing off multiple judges’ rulings against [Starbucks],” Greene added.

Get Out The Popcorn, Starbucks’ Howard Schultz Called Before Senate

Starbucks projects the image of an employee-friendly company, but its workers have been exposing the contradiction between the company’s words and its actions. On March 29, they’ll get some help from the U.S. Senate’s HELP Committee, chaired by Bernie Sanders. The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has called Howard Schultz, who recently resigned as Starbucks CEO, to testify before Congress about the company’s union-busting. Schultz is likely to be asked to explain why the company has not negotiated a contract with its union, even though the first store unionized in Buffalo in December 2021. Nearly 300 stores have now unionized with Starbucks Workers United.

Where The Starbucks Union Stands After Rallies, Proposed Audit

Four security guards blocked the entrance to Starbucks headquarters as demonstrators approached Wednesday. Workers peeked out of windows above, watching and filming the crowd. Some ventured out to order lunch from the food trucks in the parking lot and take a closer look. Gwen Williamson, a former shift supervisor for a cafe in Bellingham, addressed the crowd: “We won our election in December and immediately after that, shift supervisor hours were cut, putting our eligibility for Starbucks health education benefits at risk.” Williamson told those who had gathered that she had been unjustly terminated after she led the union charge at her store and called off several shifts at the last minute due to flood damage that left her apartment unlivable.

Starbucks Workers Walk Out Ahead Of Shareholder Meeting

Starbucks workers at over 100 US stores walk out ahead of shareholder meeting Workers hold protest in Seattle outside of Starbucks’ headquarters in response to the company’s aggressive anti-union efforts Michael Sainato @msainat1 Wed 22 Mar 2023 10.27 EDT Starbucks workers at over 100 stores around the US walked out on Wednesday ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting and held a protest in Seattle outside Starbucks’ headquarters. The actions were launched in response to Starbucks’ aggressive anti-union efforts against worker organizing, which have included allegations of firing dozens of workers in retaliation for union organizing, intimidation, store closures, withholding benefits, schedule cuts and delays in bargaining a first union contract. Starbucks has denied or rejected all allegations and charges of labor law violations.
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