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Starbucks Workers Union Expands to Maryland in Spite of Harsh Anti-Union Effort

Starbucks Workers Union Expands to Maryland in Spite of Harsh Anti-Union Effort

Rockville, Maryland- Employees at a Starbucks store here announced their
membership in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union today
and served a list of demands on their manager including a living wage, secure
work hours, and the reinstatement of union baristas illegally fired for
organizing activity. The action marks the expansion of the SWU to a third
state- baristas began joining the union in New York City and the campaign grew
to Chicago last August. Starbucks cafes were completely non-union in the
United States before the Industrial Workers of the World initiated its
organizing drive in 2004.

"No worker should have to deal with understaffing on one hand and the inability
to get enough work hours on the other," said Seth Dietz, one of the Maryland
baristas who declared his union membership. "Only an independent voice on the
job will win baristas the respect we deserve and that's the why the expansion
of the organization to Maryland is so gratifying."

The union believes that consistent pressure applied against the company at
Starbucks locations, in the community, and in the public arena has resulted in
higher wages and more steady work hours for baristas. After about two and half
years of organizing, many NYC baristas saw their wage increase almost 25%. The
SWU has also remedied individual grievances with the company in areas as
diverse as sleep-depriving work schedules, unsanitary working conditions, and
abusive managers. The campaign has captivated imaginations around the world
with support for the baristas coming from Europe, Korea, and New Zealand, among
other places.Despite the union gains, Starbucks workers still start at a poverty wage in the
$7 or $8 per hour range and no baristas are permitted full-time status. While
Starbucks frequently touts its health care offering, the company insures just
42% of its workforce- less than Wal-Mart, a company notorious for its poor
health care benefits.

"Starbucks public relations prowess won't change the fact that many baristas
live in poverty and the majority are not covered by company health care," said
Laura De Anda, an SWU member recently fired from an NYC Starbucks for union
activity. "As members of the Industrial Workers of the World, baristas are not
silenced anymore by Starbucks' fake socially responsible image."

Starbucks and its Chairman Howard Schultz have come under increasing criticism
from unions and human rights groups over labor abuses against baristas and
coffee farmers. In March 2006, the company entered into a settlement agreement
with the National Labor Relations Board over unfair labor practice charges from
the SWU. The company had to reinstate two workers discharged for organizing
activity and rescind national policies against sharing written union
information and wearing union pins.

After the settlement agreement, the coffee giant has continued union-busting
with impunity in a bid to destroy the SWU. Six SWU baristas are currently out
of a job in retaliation for their union activity. Company threats,
surveillance, and propaganda continue full steam ahead. Instead of moving
toward substantive respect for workers, the company has responded to its
increasingly vocal critics with more public relations efforts including
full-page ads in the New York Times defending its benefits and the slick but
hollow website www.whatmakescoffeegood.com.

"If Starbucks respects employees right to join a union, a Caramel Frappuccino
is an authentic Italian coffee drink," quipped New York City barista and SWU
member Pete Montalbano. "Howard Schultz and Starbucks need to face the fact
that we're here, we're growing, and we have a right to exist."