Starbucks' First Strike: Chilean Workers Hold Out For Better Pay, Benefits

 Seattle-based latte behemoth Starbucks is well known in the States for having competitive (read: relatively humane) wages, benefits and programs, and this year was ranked for the fifth time as one of Ethisphere's "World's Most Ethical Companies." But that's not enough for workers at Chile's 31 Starbucks franchises, as they earn the distinction of staging Starbucks' first-ever striking employees, demanding increased pay—including inflation increases, a no-brainer—and better benefits. Reuters via Raw Story:

Starbucks was quick to say that its 31 cafes in Chile would remain open despite the absence of union workers, who account for less than one-third of its employees there.

Starbucks is seen as having some of the restaurant industry's best pay and benefits, which has helped it fend off union organization efforts in the United States, where the coffee chain has the vast majority of its sales.

Starbucks operates roughly 17,000 cafes in more than 50 countries around the world. The vast majority of its cafes are not unionized.

Chile has seen a growing wave of protests in recent weeks, led by students, environmentalists and miners.

The company is covering the shifts of union workers in Chile with nonunion employees, said Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson.

Two hundred of 670 workers belong to Sindecato de Trabajadores de Starbucks Coffee Chile Union, and their July 7 strike was verified by the Labor Bureau when it found less than 50% of workers showed up that day. Starbucks will appeal the decision, saying the numbers of strike participants were inaccurate, but so far is complying with the Labor Bureau. Andres Giordano, the union's president, called it "an incredible victory for the union, and obviously very symbolic for the company internationally." Read the full story here

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at July 16, 2011, 5:34am

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