Submitted on Sun, 05/29/2005 - 4:14pm
By John Nichols - The Wisconsin Capital Times, May 12, 2005
Six baristas at the Vox Pop coffee shop in Brooklyn went Wobbly in March.
When the people who make lattes and sell books at the shop joined the New York City Retail Workers Union Branch 660 of the Industrial Workers of the World - the Wobblies - they linked up with a union that is celebrating 100 years of radicalism.
There are not many unions that go out of their way to organize workers at independent coffee shops and bookstores these days, and there are even fewer unions that young people think of as cool. But the IWW has always stood out from the rest of the union movement.
Formed in 1905 by the likes of Mother Jones, Eugene Victor Debs, Big Bill Haywood and Lucy Parsons, the IWW declared from the start that it would stand "upon the basic principle that the way to unite the workers is to organize them as a class, upon class interests, and not for the purpose of securing for the present a paltry few crumbs from the table of Capitalism to a privileged few within the pure and simple unions, but that all may enjoy the fruits of their industry and the fullness thereof."
Submitted on Thu, 05/26/2005 - 10:59am
Baristas of the World, Unite!
You have nothing to lose but your company-mandated cheerfulness.
Daniel Gross standing in front of his employer—and nemesis—on May 15. (Photo credit: Jake Chessum)
othing seems amiss at Starbucks Coffee Store No. 7356, on the southwest corner of Madison Avenue and 36th Street. It has a nice view of a nineteenth-century Gothic Revival church. The familiar aroma of dark-roasted Sumatra curls through the air. Most of the staffers are no older than teenagers, but none betrays the slightest hint of sullenness—or simmering political rage. “Here you go, sweetie,” says a barista in blonde pigtails as she hands a grande iced chai over the counter. You’d never suspect that this little island of repose in the crush of midtown is a revolutionary cell. Unbeknownst to its customers (or “guests,” as they’re called), store No. 7356 birthed the first-ever campaign to unionize a Starbucks—a movement that renegade baristas hope will spread through the chain’s 6,668 other U.S. outlets.
Submitted on Wed, 05/11/2005 - 3:51pm
Starbucks Workers Union News - March 27, 2005
My name is Sherry Brown and I would like to share with you the humiliation I experienced at the hands of Starbucks. While I know people are wrongly fired from their jobs every day in this country, I am not going to take this lying down and I am asking for your help.
First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a 56 year-old African-American resident of Washington D.C. and I have been working on community issues for over 30 years. When I was 21 years old I was feeding 300 kids a day in the Black Panther Party's Free Breakfast Program in Baltimore. Since my days as a college activist in the sixties, I have worked on various projects including training young people to advocate for the hungry and forming a coalition to oppose the closing of Washington's only public hospital.
Because of the gentrification taking place in Washington D.C. and the loss of my job at the Capitol Hill Starbucks (serving politicians and lobbyists), I am currently being displaced from my modest apartment. I have lived there for 11 years and now it is being converted into a high-priced luxury condominium.
Starbucks fired me because I asserted myself to a customer who was threatening my life. On a Sunday last December, a customer I was serving became extremely belligerent with me because I was not sure what drink he had ordered. I asked the shift supervisor to help the customer so that I could wait on other guests and avoid any further problems. The customer began yelling names and accused me of being "retarded". He also said I was the kind of person who makes other people go postal and that "he was always right." I told the customer his comments were offensive and that I did not have to tolerate verbal abuse.
Submitted on Wed, 05/11/2005 - 3:49pm
By Emmy Gilbert - March 1, 2005.
For related information, please visit our Starbucks Campaign page.
New York, NY - Workers at the Vox Pop coffee shop in Brooklyn unanimously joined the Industrial Workers of the World last week. The employees join a growing movement of NYC retail workers, including Starbucks baristas, who are striving to increase union membership in the industry.
Submitted on Fri, 03/18/2005 - 10:58am
Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young - You make chump change. And Congress likes it that way; By Anya Kamenetz - Village Voice, March 18th, 2005.
Just off Coney Island Avenue, in Ditmas Park, among the car washes and Pakistani sweet shops, there sits a lefty coffeehouse that seems to have dropped in from Williamsburg or maybe Seattle. Inside, the walls are painted an inviting shade of yellow; undulating, handmade bookshelves feature local zines. One of the store's bestsellers is America (The Book), by the creators of The Daily Show. A small latte is $3, 10 cents less than at Starbucks.
Vox Pop, as the café is called, is the anti-Starbucks in more ways than one. On March 1, its six employees, led by 18-year-old Emmy Gilbert, announced that they had joined the Industrial Workers of the World's NYC Retail Workers Union, IU 660. "Vox Pop workers decided we wanted to take the shop's motto of democracy to its fullest extent," Gilbert said. "And the IWW doesn't think organizing retail is futile."
Sander Hicks, who opened Vox Pop in November, may be the first boss to summon the revolutionary anarcho-syndicalist forces on behalf of his own workers. He is best known as the founder of Soft Skull Press, the respected underground imprint; the café-bookstore is a physical extension of his ideals about politics and community. After consulting with the IWW, Hicks settled on a starting wage of $10 an hour. "If we pay people $6 an hour we're going to get a low level of job love, people stealing from you, attacking customers," he says. "How can we not afford to pay more?"