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...
With Afghanistan in chaos and government and military resources strained to the limit, small, decentralized groups have been making a difference in the evacuation of American citizens and Afghans in danger.
One of the most effective has been The World Is My Country Foundation, a Texas non-profit agency that provides relevant, necessary, and efficient aid to those in need around the world regardless of race, religion, or gender. Founded by a 13-year veteran of the US Special Forces, the organization is working on a clearly defined mission.
With air evacuations being handled by other agencies, The World Is My Country Foundation is focusing on ground transportation. A GoFundMe Page titled GROUND OPTION: Emergency Ground Movements has raised close to $125,000 in less than two weeks. The team consists of a decentralized network of former Special Forces soldiers, intelligence officers, trusted Afghan allies, and volunteers working together to rescue the endangered.
It is said that the scale of these evacuation efforts is comparable to that of Dunkirk - the Allied Forces' evacuation in which more than 330,000 British, French, and Polish soldiers were cut off and surrounded by the Nazis in the spring of 1940. The Foundation has been extraordinarily successful in getting American citizens, Afghan interpreters, and other friendlies out of harm's way.
But more help – and funds – are required. And here's why:
The situation continues to deteriorate
"It's really bad," an anonymous source close to the effort says. "Kabul airport has been difficult to reach in good circumstances due to checkpoints and chokepoints, but the bombings yesterday have greatly hindered evacuation efforts. In addition, there's imperfect information about who needs to be rescued, where they are, and their current status."
Time is running out
"This is a chaotic environment, but the team is trusted and proven in working under extreme circumstances and duress," says the source, "and there's a small window between now and the August 31 pullout to make things happen."
A matter of life and death
Afghans who worked with American soldiers and citizens face severe – and fatal – reprisals from the Taliban. Interpreters, translators, Journalists, English language teachers, and government workers – to name only a few – fear the worst. As the BBC reports, the Taliban "is said to be carrying out door-to-door searches while violent scenes have also been reported at some Taliban-controlled checkpoints."
The facts are clear - the time to help is now. For the world truly is our country.