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...
June 3, 1972 – Sally Jan Priesand is the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi in the U.S.A., (the first in the world being Regina Jones in 1935, who died in Auschwitz in 1944), breaking with thousands of years of patriarchal tradition in the Jewish faith.
June 4, 1989 – Troops in China fire on unarmed pro-reform protesters in Tiananmen Square. The People's Army used tanks, machine-guns, clubs and tear gas on their own citizens. The Chinese government claimed that only 300 people were killed, but estimates point to over 3,000. After the massacre, over 1,600 demonstrators were arrested and jailed. 27 were executed.
June 5, 1968 – Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated while leaving the Hotel Ambassador in Los Angeles following a celebration for his victory in the California presidential primary.
June 6, 1872 – Susan B. Anthony is arrested, tried and fined $100 (which she does not pay) for attempting to vote in a presidential election in Rochester, NY. It would take 88 more years for Congress to ratify the 19th Amendment, granting women this fundamental right.
June 6, 1944 – The largest amphibious landing in history began as Allied forces landed in Normandy, France --- otherwise known as D-Day. By the end of the day, 150,000 soldiers had landed, with 15,000 wounded or killed.
June 7, 1965 – Citing privacy "zones" guaranteed by the First, Third, Fourth and Ninth Amendments, the US Supreme Court strikes down a Connecticut statute which criminalized counseling and other medical treatment to married couples for the purpose of preventing conception. This established a new constitutional right; the right to privacy in marital relations, including freedom from government intrusion into matters surrounding birth control.
June 12, 1898 – The Philippines declare their independence from Spain, only to be invaded and occupied by US forces. The Philippines remains a US colony until after WWII.
June 12, 1963 – Medgar Evers is assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi. The Civil Rights leader had been working to integrate schools and register black voters in the South.
June 13, 1971 – The Pentagon Papers, secret documents that revealed the US strategy in the Vietnam War, are published by The New York Times.
June 13, 1966 – The Supreme Court finds in favor of Miranda in Miranda v. Arizona, guaranteeing that accused people must be told of their rights before being questioned by the police. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to know that anything said can be used against that person in a court, and the right to have an attorney present during any questioning. These rights are known as the "Miranda Rights."
June 15, 1215 – King John signs the Magna Carta, guaranteeing his subjects basic rights, which become the foundation of all democracies that follow.
June 17, 1972 – Five men are arrested at the National Democratic Headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. An investigation follows which eventually implicates President Nixon and his administration in illegal activities and an extensive cover-up. A House Judiciary Committee adopts three articles of impeachment against the president in July 1974, and in August of that same year, Richard M. Nixon becomes the first US President to resign.
June 28, 1914 – Archduke Ferdinand, The Crown Prince of Austria, and his wife are assassinated in Sarajevo which leads to the outbreak of WWI. Five years later, with over nine million combatants and seven million civilians dead, the war formally ended with the signing of The Treaty of Versailles. The League of Nations was then formed to prevent such a horrible event from taking place again. It failed, and Europe plunged into economic depression which laid fertile ground for nationalism and, eventually, the outbreak of WWII.
June 30, 1971 – A debate over lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, which began in WWII and increased during the Vietnam War, centered on the argument that young men conscripted to fight and die for their country should not be denied the right to vote. This debate concludes on June 30, 1971, with the enactment of the 26th Amendment, which grants all American citizens 18 years or older this fundamental right.