Workplace fairness, good safety conditions and common decency should always be the rule. After many years of complaining about working conditions employees at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, have successfully created the first unionized Starbucks. One store out of 8,953 domestic stores and won by shear grit. The management put up huge resistance using such tactics as hiring a group of new employees to dilute the vote, sending out of town managers and executives to discourage unionizing and closing down some stores. To unionize is the lawful right of all American employees- if they can swing it.
They were making $14 an hour and work conditions especially after the pandemic set in were desperate: under staffing, chaotic work hours, difficulty arranging sick days and with frontline workers new stresses of health risks.
Robert Reich described the vote, “ only 19 baristas and shift supervisors voted in favor of unionizing, 8 voted against….. it marked a huge victory, especially after Starbucks waged the huge anti-union campaign.”
Restaurant workers in the United States have the lowest pay and fewest benefits of all corporate America. Maybe these employees were encouraged by seeing the well organized McDonald’s employees ‘Fight for 15 and a Union’ campaign. They have worked hard and long, locally meeting at the World Community Center where throngs of excited young people spoke together listened met. Kellogg’s workers are still striking over tiered benefits and wages for new hires. Last summer, local auto workers were striking over the same tiered benefits and low wages. New hires may wait in ‘part time’ positions for twenty years, that’s corporate abuse. Amazon is putting up similar resistance to their employees unionizing. And at, Home Depot, according to a friend, employees dare not utter a word about organizing if they want a job.
The shareholders and corporate heads are doing very well. Starbucks executive Kevin Johnson made over $14 million last year and that’s expected to go up. The Starbucks culture presents the company as being socially responsible and call their employees’ -“partners”. The employees are not co-owners nor do they share in the profits of the business. This is Greenwashing. Let’s hope the union trend can build on this success. In the meantime boycott Starbucks, Kellogg,Amazon, HomeDepot etc, but be sure to write a letter to management and cc the corporate head.