18-02-2009, 04:28 PM
posted to rec.food.drink.coffee
"The Starbucks Problem"
( translation )
"Look at all those potential Union Dues to collect !! "
Week after week... paycheck after paycheck.
On Sat, 14 Feb 2009 08:38:47 -0800, Dan Clore
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
“The Starbucks Problem”
Friday, February 13 2009 @ 08:58 AM CST
Contributed by: WorkerFreedom
Fire Your Boss
Last month, anonymous sources posted a secret conference call hosted by
Bank of America on the website Wikileaks.org.
The leaked audio file provides the public with a rare window into the
paranoid and anxiety-ridden conscience of the corporate elite. On the
call, Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, corporate executives, right-wing
activists, and notorious anti-union lobbyist Rick Berman rail against
the possibility of a revitalized labor movement, with Marcus referring
to unionization of retail as the “demise of a civilization.” One
participant coins the term the “Starbucks Problem,” referring to the
possibility that workers will simply form their own unions, rather than
waiting for the lethargic union establishment to initiate organizing drives.
The conference call was prompted by the potential passage of the
Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). If it passes, EFCA will change US labor
law to require employers to bargain with a union if 50%+1 of the
workforce in any workplace sign union authorization cards. This would
replace the current process, which creates delays of several weeks
between the signing of authorization cards and an NLRB-supervised
election, leaving the bosses plenty of time to fire or intimidate union
Many trade unionists pin their hopes for a revitalized labor movement on
the passage of EFCA. They hope that card-check provisions, combined with
stiffer penalties for union-busting will allow them to sign up millions
of new members in the service industry. Of course, requiring employers
to bargain does nothing to ensure the internal democracy or power of the
new union. The Industrial Worker, newspaper of the Industrial Workers of
the World, recently published a particularly lucid expression of this
If Corporate America is anxious about the growth of the Change to Win or
the AFL-CIO unions, it was clear from this conference call that “The
Starbucks Problem” leaves them absolutely terrified. In a tone verging
on hysteria, one executive on the call worried that proactive groups of
workers will simply start their own unions, as we have done at Starbucks
with the help of the Industrial Workers of the World.
Of course, the IWW has been organizing at Starbucks since long before
EFCA was a glimmer in the AFL-CIO’s eye. We know that workers don’t need
professional staff, expensive lawyers, or government recognition to
organize an independent voice on the job. What the corporate elites call
“The Starbucks Problem”, we call “Solidarity Unionism.” And whether EFCA
passes or not, we will continue building solidarity with our coworkers,
making demands, and winning gains for workers at even the largest
With or without the Employee Free Choice Act, the “Starbucks Problem” is
going to get a lot bigger than Starbucks.
February 13, 2009