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Global Day of Action Against Starbucks - Belfast, Dublin and Beyond!

category international | worker & community struggles and protests | feature author Tuesday July 08, 2008 23:59author by Jason Brannigan, Krossie, Lisa and 1 of indy.ie Report this post to the editors

featured image
International Solidarity

As part of the Global Day of Action against Starbucks called by the AIT/IWA and the IWW pickets were placed on Starbucks stores in Belfast, Dublin and many other cities worldwide. These were to demand the reinstatement of Monica, a member of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT working in the Starbucks in central Seville, and Cole Dorsey, an IWW member who was fired by Starbucks for organising in their Grand Rapids, Michican, shop.

BELFAST
by Jason Brannigan - Organise! organise ireland at yahoo dot com
PO Box 505, Belfast, BT12 6BQ

Organise! and the WSM picketed Starbucks in Belfast city centre today from 12 to 1 pm. Despite the miserable weather around 12 people joined the picket and leafleted passers by and potential customers outside the coffee shop. At the start of the picket 3 people had gone inside to leaflet customers and staff. There was a very positive response to the picket however one person was falsely accused of assaulting a Starbuck's member of staff after leafleting staff and customers inside.

As part of the Global Day of Action against Starbucks called by the AIT/IWA and IWW Organise! and the WSM picketed Starbucks in Belfast today (5th July) to demand the reinstatement of Monica, a member of the anarcho-syndicalist member working in their central Seville outlet, and Cole Dorsey, an IWW member who was fired by Starbucks for organising in their Grand Rapids, Michican, shop.

Organise! and the WSM picketed Starbucks in Belfast city centre today from 12 to 1 pm. Despite the miserable weather around 12 people joined the picket and leafleted passers by and potential customers outside the coffee shop. At the start of the picket 3 people had gone inside to leaflet customers and staff. There was a very positive response to the picket however one person was falsely accused of assaulting a Starbuck's member of staff after leafleting staff and customers inside.

While Starbucks present themselves as a trendy, ethical corporation when it comes to their own workers they are ruthless union-busters determined to stop their employees organising. Monica was fired on the 24th of April without notice. She had worked in the central Seville branch of Starbucks for a year and a half when her manager suddenly claimed she "created problems with her workmates". She had resistged management when they made people work public holidays without extra pay. She refused to attend work meetings outside working hours where no pay or time in lieu was offered. Her sacking came after she asked about another worker who had ben fired. The store manager had told her on several occassions that she must have nothing to do with unions.

Barely a month later, in Grand Rapids, Michican, USA, Starbucks fired Cole Dorsey on June 6th. Cole had over two years of service and was active in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union.

DUBLIN
by krossie - wsm. www.wsm.ie

Well done folks!

Here's a short report from the Dublin end.

Photos to follow (we even had placards!)

On July 5th 2005 the IWW in Grand Rapids and the CNT in Seville called for a world wide day of action on Starbucks restaurants. We know people have many issues with Starbucks from their flagship role on Capitalist Globalisation to their overpriced cup of froth laughably posing as coffee. This day of action, though, set out not to attack the company per sae. Our aim was to encourage workers within it to get organised and unionised or, at least, to start thinking about it. Specifically we were supporting the call for solidarity for Cole Dorsey fired for organising workers into the IWW in Grand rapids in the USA and Monica: organising for the CNT in Seville Spain.

From 12 pm a small group of us decided to leaflet inside some of the other Dublin Stabucks preliminary to the main demonstration on the one in Dame Street. We started upstairs in BT2 Grafton Street – some leaflets were got into the hands of staff behind the bar – but a BT2 security guard is hot on our heels snaffling and crumpling paper as he goes. No security or management precense at all in Dawson street where we get a more leisurely stroll and distribute a good number of leaflets – staff and customers read with interest. Similarly in a fairly deserted Starbucks in the IFSC.

Finally we get back to Dame Street and do another quick run around inside.
A minute later we are greeted by Irene; district manager of Starbuck’s Dublin. She is icely and formally polite informing us that we are welcome to protest peacefully but not to leaflet inside the premises and to check in any time for refreshments . We decline the offer. Then she turns paranoid asking us if we are recording her
(though we have neither the equipment or the inclination!)– turns back in and is not seen again.

The crowd in Dame Street quickly swells to over 30: with WSM members and many other activists; mostly but not exclusively libertarian. The atmosphere is cheerful through out and people manage to engage with workers on several occasions. Encouraged we head back to Dawson Street and again up to 30 people throng around it; a very strong precense at a quite small entrance.

Overall 650 leaflets distributed by 40 to 50 people over the entire day. Perhaps some seeds were sown and, at least, some of the workers inside might not see anarchists as coming complete with horns and tails.

Starbucks recently announced the closure of 500 restaurants across America with the loss of over 12,000 jobs. As the recession begins to bite there has surely never been a better time to get organised.

GERMANY
by Lisa - FAU-IWA www.fau.org

The FAU-IWA organized information pickets at a total of 40 Starbucks in 16 towns all over Germany (Aachen, Berlin, Bonn, Braunschweig, Bremen, Darmstadt, Dortmund, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt/Main, Münster, Stuttgart, Hamburg, München, Nuremberg and Wuppertal). The customers reactions were very positive in general, many people not entering or even leaving the Starbucks once they heard about the working conditions and the union busting attempts of Starbucks. There was as well lots of sympathies from many baristas, though some others were inimitated by the presence of their bosses and team leaders. We will see wether Starbucks understands what will happen to them, once they do not re-instate Monica and Cole and stop the repression against other workers and their unions.

Detailed reports (in German language) including photos can be found at here

AND BEYOND!
Coverage of the actions taken all over the globe can be found here and here.

Starbucks Global Day of Action - Belfast picket
Starbucks Global Day of Action - Belfast picket

author by bohs fan / sandinistapublication date Sun Jul 06, 2008 02:29Report this post to the editors

you couldn't get a few placards together no?

author by Andrewpublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:04Report this post to the editors

Some images from the Dublin pickets

img_2944.jpg

img_2890.jpg

Dame street
Dame street

Dawson street
Dawson street

Explains the issues to a customer
Explains the issues to a customer

author by WSMpublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:25Report this post to the editors

This is the text of the leaflet distributed in 5 Dublin Starbucks stores on Saturday as well as at the Starbucks in Belfast and Cork airport. If you want to leaflet you local Starbucks the PDF file of the leaflet is at http://www.wsm.ie/attachments/jul2008/starbucks_leaflet...8.pdf

---

Starbucks Fires Staff For Joining Unions

In the USA they sacked a barista active in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union as part of it’s ongoing offensive against employees pushing for a better wage and regular working hours. Cole Dorsey was fired after two years of service, while he was coordinating a union recruitment drive at Starbucks stores in Grand Rapids. In Spain, a barista, Monica, was fired in April from a Starbucks in Seville for her activity on behalf of her union, the National Confederation of Workers (CNT-AIT).

Both unions have called for international solidarity actions today. Protests are taking place today in Belfast, Europe, Canada, the USA and Latin America. We are here to let management know that union busting anywhere will be met with international workers’ solidarity. We are also here to show Starbucks workers who decide to join a union that they have friends who will stand by them.

Most coffee shop workers are unorganised. Wages and conditions may vary from company to company and from shop to shop, but whatever the set-up, baristas are all subject to the whims of company strategies that seek to reap maximum profits from the labour of workers, while generally paying poor wages to those who make the profits possible.

Starbucks management in the USA, Spain and Britain are trying hard to scare their workers away from joining unions. And you know why... because with a union you’ll get better treatment than you do without one. No matter how good the job is, united you can do better! In the few stores in New York and Chicago where baristas have unionised, where membership has achieved a critical mass, there have been gains in wages and working conditions like more secure work hours and across-the-board wage increases (almost 25% for many workers in NYC). That’s why management are so anti-union.

Starbucks is a $15 billion company with over 7,500 locations around the world, company chairman Howard Schultz is worth close to a billion dollars. The bosses want to see even more money flow into their own pockets, that’s why they don’t want workers coming together in unions.

Coffee shop workers who want a better deal at work should chat to their colleagues about joining a union. If there is interest, contact the unions who organise these types of jobs and see what assistance they can offer you: SIPTU Hotel & Restaurant branch, 01-8586455, hotels@siptu.ie UNITE, 01-8734577 Independent Workers Union, 087-9356945

---

Today’s protest was organised at short notice by the Workers Solidarity Movement (an anarchist organisation of trade unionists, social justice campaigners and customers who would prefer to drink their coffee in unionised cafés). http://www.wsm.ie

---

Check out the site run by Starbucks workers for Starbucks workers

See what staff in Britain are doing http://www.baristasunited.org.uk

--- ends ----

Reading the leaflet in Dame street Starbucks
Reading the leaflet in Dame street Starbucks

author by krossie - wsm personal capacitypublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:48Report this post to the editors

A couple more pics from Dame Street

Viewed from above
Viewed from above

Milling about
Milling about

line up for the classic picket pose!
line up for the classic picket pose!

author by Stevepublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 13:31Report this post to the editors

What exactly do Starbuck's employees actually do?
They serve coffee and pastries and give you the right change and...er...that's it.
I worked in Starbucks for a few months and enjoyed the banter with my colleagues and meeting cheerful customers.
But it was an in-between job after a few months before in an off-licence and a few months afterward selling CD's in HMV.
I currently work in Subway.
I am also in Third Level education and I hope to become an engineer and maybe set up own business.
These crappy underpaid jobs for me are just a stop-gap measure until I get proper job and move on with my life.
Am I resenful of how I have been treated by some snotty faced managers? You betcha!
But do I really give a shit? No.
The pictures I see on this thread are of adult-children who are perpetual losers.
There are no sociology factories opening up any time soon so you are all browned off eh?

author by gregorypublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 13:56Report this post to the editors

off licence

starbucks

engineering student

subway sandwiche bar

Who's a perpetual loser?

author by lulupublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 14:58Report this post to the editors

Every day for us is Boycott Starbucks, but ye've reminded us to spread the word!

author by Baristapublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 16:34Report this post to the editors

What do Starbucks employees actually do?

Confessions of a Barista (one blessed with the powers of reflection!)
http://www.counterpunch.org/krassner07042008.html

Related Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/krassner07042008.html
author by Dozzeypublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 17:08Report this post to the editors

I read the article from this gentleman who aside from the few jokes fails ot give a proper reason why he was fired? - just as a general question here is it wrong for someone to get fired because they are lazy, tardy or just can't do their job? - amazing to me how a company like starbucks can get to be so successful - serve good coffee yet be bad to their staff - surely starbucks started off small... one action in one part of a major company does not constitute widespread bad unemployment practices...am i wrong?

an episode of southpark (marvellous political satire) which chronicles some of the arguments in this regards - worth a look

Sorry i couldn't make the protest by the way only i had to work that day and indeed most days... is there a protest i could attend that perhaps is not on a day that i work?

author by dozzeypublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 17:13Report this post to the editors

oh by the way working outside alloted hours is a feature of the private sector by the way - usually by managers who work in excess of 60 hours - yet regular employees are given all their rights. I'd be delighted if some people here would campaign for managers... ?

author by David Jonespublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 17:16Report this post to the editors

I'm almost tempted to feel sympathy with Steve - but not for the pretty banal reasons he cites. As well as being symbols of globalisation, starbucks are also the easiest targets, because lets face it there's one on nearly every street of every capital, they sell a product mostly grown in developing economies at a very large mark-up - in cafes that resemble souped up McDonalds to people who epitomise capitalism in every form. It is however simply not true that starbucks are the worst offenders here. Go to your local cafe and ask where do they get their beans and most couldn't tell you - a question starbucks can at least answer. Most coffee shops buy the cheapest beans going at commodity market prices. Same apllies to most branded coffees. The arguments about unionisation could apply to any MNC in this country and as for worker lay-offs - look at construction! Incidently starbucks have been often been highly criticised by their shareholders for paying over the odds for beans and having staff costs that are well higher than industry standards (which are admittedly pretty low). Boycott the industry by all means, but picking starbucks strikes me as about as lame as throwing turnips at the afore mentioned McDs.

author by Protestorpublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 17:55Report this post to the editors

Steve: "The pictures I see on this thread are of adult-children who are perpetual losers.
There are no sociology factories opening up any time soon so you are all browned off eh?"


That's simply a childish insult. Hey you are looking upwards, you don't care about those people who work in such jobs and may not have the glittering career that you see for yourself ahead of them. That's your choice - fine. But your selfish outlook is not identical with maturity - it's as simple and childish as attitudes come.

David Jones: this was a specific protest against Starbucks' targetting of union organisers. The fact that it did not take down global capitalism or globalised exploitation is not really much of a surprise to anybody. Your comments are about as insightful as "the air contains OXYGEN PEEPLE WAKEUP!1!!". In other words evaluating against a ludicrous straw man target is pretty pointless.

author by Boycott or organise?publication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 18:28Report this post to the editors

"Boycott the industry by all means, but picking starbucks strikes me as about as lame as throwing turnips at the afore mentioned McDs."

Eh, where does it call for a boycott in the article?
It's a report on a day of action against Starbucks due to it's firing of workers/union organisers and would thus seem to be advocating this form of collective organising and activity coupled with international solidarity as opposed to the more individual and atomised (and quite often moralistic) activity of boycotting.

author by Davidpublication date Wed Jul 09, 2008 22:59Report this post to the editors

great chaps, pour me another cup of cheap coffee and that'll be grand and appologies for the uninsightful comment!
I understood that preferring to drink coffee in unionised coffee shops (clearly stated at the end of the WSM article above) who I'm sure serve totally ethical coffee counts or at leasts hints at a boycott of non-unioinised cafes (e.g. starbucks)....believe me I support this but at least lets be clear that in terms of worker and producer pay starbucks is not the worst industry offender here, even Mr. Krassner seems more offended by his wise crack customers than his bosses....starbucks is however the most visible target!

author by Stevepublication date Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:42Report this post to the editors

When you work in a low paid job like Starbucks you realise and accept that you are just a number and you are totally expendable.
I did it solely for the money and then I went home at the evening and lived my life.
Being treated like crap actually made me stronger and made me more ambitious to succeed academically and I am sure I have a good future career hopefully self-employed and managing a team of subordinates.
Let's face it if your only ambition is to work in Starbucks and seek union recognition for pouring coffee you are pathetic sad individual.
If you want to get ahead in life you have to start at the very bottom and work your way up the promotion ladder.
One day when you'll grow up, get married, have kids and have a mortgage and bills to pay.
Otherwise you are going to be loafinfg around in bedsits for the rest of your miserable alcoholic lives.

author by Protestorpublication date Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:34Report this post to the editors

David: "I understood that preferring to drink coffee in unionised coffee shops (clearly stated at the end of the WSM article above) who I'm sure serve totally ethical coffee counts or at leasts hints at a boycott of non-unioinised cafes (e.g. starbucks)"

You've just made that up. There is absolutely nothing in the article (never mind it being clearly stated) that expresses a preference to drink coffee in unionised coffee shops. The WSM piece encourages workers to join unions - that's that. The WSM does not, in general, support consumer action such as boycotts due to their atomised, ineffective and moralising nature.

"believe me I support this but at least lets be clear that in terms of worker and producer pay starbucks is not the worst industry offender here, even Mr. Krassner seems more offended by his wise crack customers than his bosses....starbucks is however the most visible target!"

I don't believe you. If you supported this, I very much doubt that you'd be inventing all this hogwash and going on about how nice Starbucks are. The simple point that you seem to be missing is that this was a protest against specific actions against unionisation by Starbucks - Starbucks is not the worst offendor, nor is it the most visible target, in this case it is the offendor, it is the target. If you want to mount a generalised consumer intifada against the coffee industry, go for it, but in the meantime you can stop pretending that this protest is such a thing. Personally, I think such a campaign would be stupid and would only be put forward by an ill-motivated spin-merchant, but hey, each to their own.

Steve: you are a perfect example of the atomised, arrogant, selfish and immature cubs that the celtic tiger has thrown up. Your childish and semi-literate insults about people needing to grow up and get married and not spend their time "loafinfg [sic] around in bedsits for the rest of your miserable alcoholic lives" are a particular case in point. You are, by your own admission, a student loafing around in a job where you are treated like crap. Many of the protestors have mortgages, kids, wives, husbands, permanent jobs and so on. Your insistence on seeing the world through the lenses of tired old cliches rather than the reality would be funny if it weren't so unpleasant.

Your willingness ot accept that you can be treated as "like crap" and as "just a number" and "totally expendable" is not evidence of maturity. It's evidence of a total and utter lack of a spine. I really don't understand why you consider adopting the disposition of a worm to be a badge of pride.

The fact that you accept so meekly being treated as a worm because you imagine that you have a glittering career in front of you is again not a sign of maturity - it's pure and utter naivety driven by selfishness. No matter how far you may rise the majority of the population will occupy lowly roles - that's the way capitalist economies are structured. Rich people are only rich if they have lowly types to do stuff for them, like making them coffee.

Your presumed certainty that you are on the way upwards would also be touchingly naive if it wasn't wrapped up in such unpleasant selfishness. We are on the verge of a recession and if you really do have to work a lowly service sector job to fund your studies, then the probabilities are stacked against you ever being anything more than an order-taker who slogs his atomised life away doing stuff for rich people.

Now, while this is true for you (and if you look at the actual figures for social mobility, the truth is undeniable), many others do not have the privilege of higher level education and, regardless of what their ambitions are, the vast majority of them will have to rely on relatively lowly jobs in the service sector or similar. In putting such things down to a lack of ambition on their part, you are betraying a total lack of system thinking and exhibiting the fundamental attribution error - typical failings in the naive and young who imagine that the world is a fair place and rewards virtue. The result is an ugly and unpleasant arrogance wrapped around the simple-minded and fundamentally wrong evaluation of how the world works.

author by Stevepublication date Thu Jul 10, 2008 13:06Report this post to the editors

Ok then suppose I'm wrong and you are right. What then? What difference does it make?
We have a class system with rich people at the top, middle classes lackeys and serfs like you and me at the bottom.
So what?
Revolution?
I'm glad i live in a society where I don't go hungry, where clothing, housing, electricity and consumer goods are affordable, where I can afford the odd night out or a trip to the cinema or a cup of coffee in Starbucks or a paperback novel.
As for the poor and impoverished etc. Too bad. I feel sorry for them but it's not really my problem. I can't do anything about it anyway.
You should admit the same.

author by Davidpublication date Thu Jul 10, 2008 13:37Report this post to the editors

protestestor - I don't "make up" hogwash and I'm not part of a pair!
Can I at least point you to what you might consider the small print of the end of the WSM piece
"Today’s protest was organised at short notice by the Workers Solidarity Movement (an anarchist organisation of trade unionists, social justice campaigners and customers who would prefer to drink their coffee in unionised cafés)"

Without being pedantic the word "prefer" does imply a preference - a pretty strong one if it leads to protests. Secondly I never said starbucks was nice or never asked for an "intifada" on the coffee industry - and it is certainly not ill-motivated to demand better standards in the world's coffee industry. I think you've hit on a serious dilemma though - should we stand outside starbucks to protest over unionisation in a company that has above industry eithical standards and decides to let go a few Krassner's and Steves because they have built too many ugly green coffee shops and "prefer" to buy our beans from unionised sources (with no clear ethical standards) - or should we take a larger view of the industry and its practices - part of which includes labor standards but might cause us to loose our facination with starbucks? your choice mate!

author by Boycott//Organisepublication date Thu Jul 10, 2008 14:57Report this post to the editors

"I think you've hit on a serious dilemma though - should we stand outside starbucks to protest over unionisation in a company that has above industry eithical standards and decides to let go a few Krassner's and Steves because they have built too many ugly green coffee shops and "prefer" to buy our beans from unionised sources (with no clear ethical standards) - or should we take a larger view of the industry and its practices - part of which includes labor standards but might cause us to loose our facination with starbucks? your choice mate!"

Okay, first of all, Starbucks isn't above industry standards and doesn't buy it's beans from unionised sources or fair trade. See: http://www.organicconsumers.org/starbucks/index.cfm for just one example amongst many that would fit into even a liberal ethical consumer based analysis of starbucks that you seem to be espousing, correct me if I'm wrong. As for the labor standards, read some of the links above and as to the treatment of workers and especially those who try to organise to improve their work standards by Starbucks management.
Your idea of unionised workplace or ethical purchasing of coffee still fits into a consumer and thus individualised/atomised means of understanding the problem. You also seem to not realise that the WSM as well as others organising these protests would be looking at this and have an analysis (socio economic, political, philosophical, etc. ) on the micro as well as macro level, a macro level that goes beyond Starbucks alone and even your industry wide view. These groups, including and especially the trade unions of the IWW and CNT would definately hold viewpoints that go beyond simply unionisiation (or unionised workplaces as being better and ethical consumer choices) and towards more fundamental and widespread societal change. Read up on them from the links provided.

author by darlapublication date Mon Jul 14, 2008 19:40author email darladublin at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

this is simply unbelievable in this day and age,more publicity is needed.

author by krossie - wsm personal capacitypublication date Tue Jul 15, 2008 14:39Report this post to the editors

Steve: One day when you'll grow up, get married, have kids and have a mortgage and bills to pay.

Hmmm - that sounds like really, really great you're surely selling me Steve - tho' I think I'll stick with the "adult children" a piece longer - good look with the mortgage and bills and all!

kpx

author by krossie - wsm personal capacitypublication date Tue Jul 15, 2008 14:40Report this post to the editors

Yikes - Good LUCK even!

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