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"The Starbucks Problem"

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://tinyurl.com/c9hguo “The Starbucks Problem” Friday, February 13 2009 @
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 14, 2009
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      “The Starbucks Problem”
      Friday, February 13 2009 @ 08:58 AM CST
      Contributed by: WorkerFreedom
      Fire Your Boss

      Last month, anonymous sources posted a secret conference call hosted by
      Bank of America on the website Wikileaks.org.

      The leaked audio file provides the public with a rare window into the
      paranoid and anxiety-ridden conscience of the corporate elite. On the
      call, Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, corporate executives, right-wing
      activists, and notorious anti-union lobbyist Rick Berman rail against
      the possibility of a revitalized labor movement, with Marcus referring
      to unionization of retail as the “demise of a civilization.” One
      participant coins the term the “Starbucks Problem,” referring to the
      possibility that workers will simply form their own unions, rather than
      waiting for the lethargic union establishment to initiate organizing drives.

      The conference call was prompted by the potential passage of the
      Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). If it passes, EFCA will change US labor
      law to require employers to bargain with a union if 50%+1 of the
      workforce in any workplace sign union authorization cards. This would
      replace the current process, which creates delays of several weeks
      between the signing of authorization cards and an NLRB-supervised
      election, leaving the bosses plenty of time to fire or intimidate union

      Many trade unionists pin their hopes for a revitalized labor movement on
      the passage of EFCA. They hope that card-check provisions, combined with
      stiffer penalties for union-busting will allow them to sign up millions
      of new members in the service industry. Of course, requiring employers
      to bargain does nothing to ensure the internal democracy or power of the
      new union. The Industrial Worker, newspaper of the Industrial Workers of
      the World, recently published a particularly lucid expression of this

      If Corporate America is anxious about the growth of the Change to Win or
      the AFL-CIO unions, it was clear from this conference call that “The
      Starbucks Problem” leaves them absolutely terrified. In a tone verging
      on hysteria, one executive on the call worried that proactive groups of
      workers will simply start their own unions, as we have done at Starbucks
      with the help of the Industrial Workers of the World.

      Of course, the IWW has been organizing at Starbucks since long before
      EFCA was a glimmer in the AFL-CIO’s eye. We know that workers don’t need
      professional staff, expensive lawyers, or government recognition to
      organize an independent voice on the job. What the corporate elites call
      “The Starbucks Problem”, we call “Solidarity Unionism.” And whether EFCA
      passes or not, we will continue building solidarity with our coworkers,
      making demands, and winning gains for workers at even the largest
      corporate chains.

      With or without the Employee Free Choice Act, the “Starbucks Problem” is
      going to get a lot bigger than Starbucks.

      February 13, 2009

      Dan Clore

      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      "From the point of view of the defense of our society,
      there only exists one danger -- that workers succeed in
      speaking to each other about their condition and their
      aspirations _without intermediaries_."
      --Censor (Gianfranco Sanguinetti), _The Real Report on
      the Last Chance to Save Capitalism in Italy_
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