Radical media, politics and culture.

Union for Starbucks Workers Expands to Chicago

Union for Starbucks Workers Expands to Chicago

First Group of Baristas Outside of
New York City Joins the IWW Starbucks Workers

Chicago, IL- Baristas at Chicago's Logan
Square Starbucks store announced last night
their membership in the IWW Starbucks Workers
, becoming the
first U.S. workers outside of New York City to
declare union membership at the world's largest
coffee chain.

Workers served Starbucks management at the cafe,
located on 2759 W Logan Blvd., with a
declaration of union membership and a set of
demands including a living wage, guaranteed work
hours, reinstatement of IWW baristas fired for
organizing activity, and respect for an
independent voice on the job through union
membership."I work hard every day for an extremely
profitable company yet I have to scrounge to
make ends meet," said Joe Tessone, an IWW
barista at the Logan Square store. "Across the
country, Starbucks workers are inspired by the
victories achieved by IWW Starbucks Workers
Union members in New York, and here in Chicago
we are using direct action against the company
to improve our working conditions."?

Based on Starbucks' surveillance of union activity,
senior level management was prepared for the workers'
surprise action. In an unprecedented move, the store
manager was joined by the district manager, regional
director, and "partner" resources manager to disparage
the union and intimidate workers from asserting their
rights. Becky Critch of "partner" resources even went
so far as to say the union doesn't exist to which
workers replied, "we're dues-paying members of the IWW
Starbucks Workers Union." Starbucks also handed out
the preamble to the IWW constitution which outlines
the union's long-term vision for economic change.

In stark contrast to its employee-friendly
image, Starbucks workers in Chicago and around
the world face low wages and barriers to
healthcare and other benefits. After years of
promoting itself as a leader in employee health
care, Starbucks was forced to admit that only
42% of its employees (including management) are
covered by company health care- that figure is
lower than Wal-Mart's 47%, a company often
condemned for its poor health care package.

In Chicago, baristas start at only $7.50 per
hour and, like all cafe workers at the company,
are not guaranteed any number of work hours per
week. Employees who expect to work full-time
are often not given the necessary number of
hours to qualify for healthcare benefits.

"As union members, my co-workers and I will
never have to worry about being taken advantage
of," said Christine Morin, a barista at the
Logan Square store and IWW Starbucks Workers
Union member. "The only way Starbucks will live
up to its socially responsible image is for
workers to stand together and demand that our
rights are recognized and respected."

Founded in 2004, the IWW Starbucks Workers Union- with
members at seven Starbucks locations- has won three
wage increases, more consistent scheduling, and some
safety improvements at Starbucks stores in New
York City. The union uses direct pressure against the
company on the job and in the community to win demands
and remedy member grievances with management. The
union's organizing approach is known as solidarity
unionism whereby workers themselves control
their own organization; power is exerted without
interference from the government or union
bureaucrats; and organizing takes place
regardless of certification status. Like many
labor organizations, the IWW Starbucks Workers
Union does not get involved in government
certification elections because of the fatal
flaws in that system. Starbucks does not
recognize the union and is waging a relentless
campaign to crush the organization, which
resulted in a large complaint leveled against
the company by the National Labor Relations

"The Chicago baristas joining the IWW is proof
of solidarity unionism's scalability," said
Daniel Gross, an organizer with the IWW
Starbucks Workers Union and a former barista
fired by the company for union activity.
"Through direct action and mutual aid, workers
at the multinational retailers like Borders,
Wal-Mart, and Starbucks can stand together for
democracy at work and justice in society."