Amid IWW Union Pressure and Expansion, Starbucks Loosens Purse Strings

Amid IWW Union Pressure and Expansion, Starbucks Loosens Purse Strings

New York, NY- After a summer spent highlighting the poverty wage at the world's largest coffee chain and expanding into the Chicago market, the IWW Starbucks Workers Union [] has won a wage increase from the company. The raise will benefit Starbucks employees in New York City, Chicago, and around the country.

In Chicago, starting pay for baristas has increased from $7.50 per hour to $7.80. After six months, Chicago baristas will make $8.58 per hour if they receive a favorable performance review. In New York City, baristas will make $9.63 per hour after six months on the job and a favorable performance review. Senior baristas will receive only a ten-cent raise to discourage long-term employment at Starbucks.

"We fought hard and this is a great union victory but there's still a ways to go," said Isis Saenz, an IWW member and Starbucks barista in New York. "Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz needs to accept that baristas deserve a living wage and have a right to join a union free of coercion."

Significant deficiencies persist with compensation for Starbucks employees. The coffee giant is a 100% part-time employer- employees lack any guaranteed work hours. While the wage increase was a step in the right direction, still low pay and lack of secure work hours combine for a poverty pay package at Starbucks. Despite an aggressive long-term PR campaign by Starbucks casting itself as a leader in employee health care, the majority of workers remain without insurance from the company.

Senior Starbucks workers were given a disproportionately low wage increase, reflecting a trend of large-retailers like Wal-Mart trimming away "costlier" long-term employees despite their substantial contribution to the enterprise. The performance review basis for the six-month raise is problematic as well. Starbucks all too often issues negative performance reviews to punish baristas who challenge unjust company policies.

"It's great to have more money to try and make ends meet," said Christine Morin, an IWW member and Starbucks barista in Chicago. "At the same time we're very aware that in conjunction with the more obvious aspects of the Starbucks' union-busting campaign, this wage increase is designed to preempt further IWW growth at the company."

Starbucks has instructed store-level management to hold one-on-one meetings with employees to claim that a company survey was the reason for the increase, not union pressure. Under this reasoning, Starbucks needed a survey to know poverty wage employees desired a raise. Starbucks has characterized past gains won by the union as, "random acts of kindness." The company does not respect the union's right to exist and is waging a fierce anti-union campaign for which it has been cited in a massive complaint by the National Labor Relations Board.

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is a grassroots organization of employees at the world's largest coffee chain united for dignity at work. The union has an organized presence at seven Starbucks locations in New York City and Chicago fighting for systemic change at the company and remedying individual grievances. In New York City, the union has raised the wage of many employees almost 25% in less than two and a half years of organizing. IWW baristas have also fought successfully for improved scheduling and store safety. Workers who join the union have immediate access to co-workers and members of the community who will struggle with them for a better life on the job.


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