Starbucks' Dirty Secrets Revealed
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The momentum to Stop Starbucks’ problematic anti-labor practices is building. In just one day, 10,000 people have signed the memo insisting Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz allow workers to unionize. Meanwhile Starbucks drew the wrath of Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) yesterday. As members of Congress, union leaders, and clergy gathered for a Capitol Hill prayer breakfast to pray for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, Edwards declared she no longer held “coffee conversations” at Starbucks in her district because of the company’s opposition to this vital legislation.
As I wrote yesterday, Starbucks is part of the Orwellian-sounding Committee for Level Playing Field. (Notice the pattern with Starbucks speak. The company sticks to an “Optimal Scheduling” policy that is anything but optimal for its “partners,” which is the company’s clever name for workers, even though Starbucks routinely disrespects these employees by punishing them for participating in union activities.) Along with Whole Foods and Costco, Starbucks is pushing for a compromise on Employee Free Choice that would basically keep secret ballot elections in place that are prone to intimidation, without truly allowing for the union authorization card alternative proposed by the legislation. The Committee’s so-called compromise would also increase penalties for companies that discriminate against workers trying to unionize, which is ironic considering Starbucks is one of those companies and has repeatedly violated the National Labor Relations Act.
Now here’s the fun part. There’s a lot you can do to let Starbucks know they should stop harassing workers for exercising their rights to unionize and negotiate for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. Starbucks currently has a site, My Starbucks Idea, calling for ideas from people to “shape the future of Starbucks.” This is a great chance to tell Starbucks what you really think. Here’s what I wrote, head to the site and vote it up or submit your own idea:
ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.