Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Free Pass III

First, we read that Starbucks is going to triple the number of its stores and saturate the worldwide coffee market, prompting a lawsuit over "monopoly capitalism."

Then Starbucks is accused of exploiting third world workers.

Now, we see that Starbucks is treats its baristas unfairly and is resisting attempts at unionization.
Like many corporate executives, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz believes his company treats employees so well that they should not want a union.
Where have we heard that before?
"Despite all their rhetoric of being progressive, they're as anti-union as a McDonald's or Wal-Mart," said John Bowman, a national representative for the Canadian Auto Workers, which represents about 75 Starbucks employees in the Vancouver, B.C., area.


Some baristas cannot get the 20 hours a week necessary to qualify for health insurance, union reps say. Others have such sporadic hours that they can't have another part-time job to augment their income.

Starbucks does not guarantee baristas or other hourly workers that they will work 40 hours a week, although officials say many baristas do work full time.


In 2005, Starbucks settled charges the union had filed with the NLRB accusing the company of systematically screening out job applicants who had worked at unionized employers or had other perceived union sympathies.


Only 42 percent of Starbucks workers have health insurance. The company says the main reason that baristas decline coverage is that they have another health plan, often through their parents, a spouse or a full-time job elsewhere.
So where is "Wake Up Starbucks" and "Starbucks Watch"? There are way more Starbucks stores on the Palouse than Wal-Marts. Why aren't the "heroes" of PARD out fighting against them also? Why don't we see letters to the editor from TV Reed that proudly proclaim that he doesn't buy his mochas there? Simple. It's classism. Starbucks appeals to the higher-end demographics. They aren't about to mess up their latte fix. This shows more clearly than anything else that all the rhetoric about wages, benefits, poor labor practices, exploiting third world workers, monopoly capitalism, etc. are not sincerely held beliefs, but rather excuses to oppose the "intrusion of the undesirable social classes" into Pullman.

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