On Thursday, February 22, students from more than two dozen colleges demanded their institutions “cancel their contracts with Starbucks in protest against the company’s response to union organizing efforts,” according to TheGuardian (UK).
Students from California to New York - in conjunction with Starbucks Workers United - pointed to the coffee giant’s less-than-worker-friendly tactics in dealing with demands for unionizing. Restaurant Dive lists some of those tactics, which include “workplace surveillance and diluting the electoral pool at unionizing locations, firing workers involved with the union in alleged retaliation, and alleged solicitation of grievances in an effort to stymie union organizing.”
The powerful cede power only when forced to, and it’ll be most interesting to see what effect these and other protests have on Starbucks’ policy. The Guardian reports that . . .
“nearly 400 Starbucks stores around the US have won union elections to join Starbucks Workers United since December 2021...but a first union contract for any store has yet to be reached.”
As any giant corporation would, Starbucks claimed there’s nothing to see here, folks, just move along now...Several sources quote a spokesperson for the coffee chain: “While we remain longstanding advocates of civil discourse, our focus is on fulfilling our promise to offer a bridge to a better future for all partners – through competitive pay, industry-leading benefits for part-time work, and our continued efforts to negotiate fair contracts for partners at stores that have chosen union representation.”
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Haya Odeh puts about as much credence into that statement as you do. “We’re just not going to let Starbucks slide with the injustices they pass on to workers,” she’s quoted in The Guardian. “Their union busting is just the very tip of the iceberg. Their labor practices and how they treat their workers, we want to push the message that we’re not going to stand for this as students.”
Georgetown University’s paper TheHoya reported on a panel discussion held on February 22, sponsored by Georgetown Students Against Starbucks (GSAS). “Panelist Meghin Martin, a former partner at Starbucks and member of SWU, said Starbucks has refused to engage in good faith bargaining, a type of negotiation in which both parties must sincerely resolve to reach a collective bargaining agreement.
‘Their whole game plan is running the union dry, wait as long as they possibly can, and hope that we either just give up, we run out of money.’”
Speaking of money, Starbucks has quite a lot of it. Those protesting its labor practices have gumption, dedication to the cause of the worker, and the desire to end corporate exploitation.
Time will declare the victor. For the moment, a cup of coffee would be terrific. A nice, home-brewed cup in a porcelain mug that can be used time and again...
Dykes to Watch Out For followed the lives of a cast of mostly queer characters, their friendships, and a mix of “high and low culture - from foreign policy to domestic routine, hot sex to postmodern theory.”Along with the 2006 bestselling graphic novel, Fun Home - which inspired the Tony-award-winning play of the same name - Bechdel’s most famous work is her comic, The Rule. The strip debuted in 1985, depicting a fictionalized conversation with her friend, Liz Wallace.
This became known as The Bechdel Test.
- Has to have at least two women in it who
- Talk to each other about
- Something else besides a man
One character reveals that the last movie that satisfied these requirements was Alien, which premiered 6 years earlier.
Regarding the comic's fame, Bechdel said, “Somehow young feminist film students found this old cartoon and resurrected it in the Internet era and now it’s this weird thing…People actually use it to analyze films to see whether or not they pass that test. Still . . . surprisingly few films actually pass it.”
It’s become a shorthand over time to define if a film is “feminist” or not. But that’s not what Bechdel was intending.
The Bechdel-Wallace test gauges female representation rather than any specific female interpretation.
Bechdel and Wallace just wanted to see some women onscreen who have inner lives!
The lesbian experience can be isolating. It’s not asking too much for blockbuster films to feature female characters whose every frame doesn’t revolve around men. Using the test to define whether a film is feminist or not isn’t fair to feminism, the movie industry, or Alison Bechdel. If a movie passes the test, it can still be a misogynist wreck. And there are plenty of films with explicit feminist messages that don’t necessarily satisfy the rules.
Still, it’s wild how low the bar is, and how few films will pass the test. Particularly now, since the test is a widely known part of popular culture. And it can be resolved with just a brief conversation. A quick glance at 2022’s films have about half passing the test.
Other tests have popped up in its honor, like the Duvernay test intending to measure racial diversity. There’s the Mako Mori test, inspired by a character in Pacific Rim. Although her actions fail to pass the Bechdel test, Mako has a satisfying narrative arc. Finally, there was the Fire Island controversy, where a white woman called out the film for failing to pass the Bechel Test; an unfair callout for a cast of queer Asian characters, who are underrepresented in Hollywood.
Bechdel herself chimed in.
Okay, I just added a corollary to the Bechdel test: Two men talking to each other about the female protagonist of an Alice Munro story in a screenplay structured on a Jane Austen novel = pass. #FireIsland #BechdelTest
— Alison Bechdel (@AlisonBechdel) June 8, 2022
And as more women and people of color get cast in active, engaging, and inclusive roles, these tests will keep evolving. Our films and series must strive for diversity in terms of race, gender, and LGBTQ+ stories. Because we deserve original stories, true to all walks of life.