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Friday, February 23, 2007

STARBUCKS: Listen to Your Inner-Self

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union has unveiled a new blog at: With an emphasis on workers' own stories, the SWU blog will provide news and views on the reality of the Starbucks Corporation behind the brand. The initiative marks the first time that employees at a multinational retailer will amplify their voices together through a blog.

"When we hear from corporations, it's management speaking not workers," said Christine Morin, a Starbucks barista and union member in Chicago. "With the SWU blog, we can expose the reality of work across the Starbucks supply chain."

The first set of postings at the blog represents a compelling mix of issues. A post from a union barista in Maryland details early gains on the job as an IWW member. A former barista at a Canadian Starbucks tell her story of getting tracked down and fired by the company without warning for selling a small amount of coffee and tea on eBay. She writes that she was saving up money for a Disney World trip with her kids.

The latest blog post makes public for the first time an internal Starbucks document revealing the high-cost of health care at the company. Another post exposes Starbucks role in the National Retail Federation, a lobbying group seeking to insert tax giveaways in the minimum wage bill and defeat labor law reform. The early postings also contain updates on the trademark dispute between Ethiopia and Starbucks from a barista perspective.

"I'm excited about this project because Starbucks has done such a good job deceiving people about the company," said Daniel Gross, an SWU barista currently fighting for his job back at Starbucks after an anti-union termination. "This is an opportunity for workers to set the record straight and continue the struggle for secure work hours, a living wage, and affordable health care."

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is an organization of employees at the world's largest coffee chain united for dignity at work. SWU members working at Starbucks do not get involved in flawed union certification elections, opting instead for direct pressure against the company on the job, in the community, and in the public arena. The union is open to all Starbucks workers.

Despite an illegal union-busting campaign by Starbucks, the organization has chalked up important victories in wages and working conditions. Still as Starbucks announces yet another quarter of record profits, the coffee giant maintains a 100% part-time hourly workforce with no guaranteed work hours each week leaving baristas in a precarious struggle to pay the bills on just $7 or $8 per hour. And in contrast to misleading corporate communications, high out-of-pocket expenses leave the majority of Starbucks employees without health care from the company.

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