News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Starbucks Workers Move to Unionize
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
New York, NY -- Starbucks workers here have organized a
union with the Industrial Workers of the World IU/660 and
have submitted union cards today to the NLRB for a
The workers are poised to become the first Starbucks
Baristas union certified in the country. Starbucks Baristas
at the 36th and Madison location in Midtown Manhattan have
come together in an effort to raise themselves out of
poverty as well as to achieve respect and dignity on the
job. The workers are calling on Starbucks to obey the law as
the election approaches.
"Behind the green aprons and smiles are individuals living
in serious poverty," said Daniel Gross, a worker at the
store. "Baristas are the cornerstone of a Starbucks coffee
shop, we just deserve better. Starbucks cashes in on a
community friendly image but it certainly doesn't extend to
their workers or coffee farmers. That's why we went Union."
Starbucks is a $15 billion company with over 7,500 locations
around the world, but workers have most emphatically not
shared in their success. In New York City with one of the
highest costs of living in the world, Starbucks workers
start at $7.75 an hour and eventually receive raises
amounting to merely a few cents.
Starbucks has also developed a scheme whereby all Baristas
work on a part-time basis and are not guaranteed any amount
of hours per week thus making it exceedingly difficult for
workers to budget for necessities like rent, utilities, and
"I come to work and I work hard," said Maureen Medianero,
23, who has worked at Starbucks for almost 2 years. "But I'm
still hanging on by a shoe string not knowing if I can make
ends meet to support my daughter. It's frightening."
Although Starbuck workers serve an enormous volume of
beverages, many of them extremely hot, in order to save
money management refuses to schedule enough workers to do
the required work safely. Instead, workers are forced to
perform their duties at unsafe speeds with an undue level of
"A Starbucks coffee shop is an ergonomic minefield. The
stores are supposed to mimic an Italian cafe without
considering the uncomfortable bending and reaching we have
to do," explained Barista Anthony Polanco. "This isn't your
mom and pop coffee shop, we're talking McDonald's busy every
day. Starbucks talks about 'Creating Warmth' but the only
warmth I feel is the heat pad at the end of the day."
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), founded in 1905,
is a union dedicated to workplace democracy. IWW IU/660
represents workers in the retail industry.
- posted 16 years ago