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Starbucks Union Starts Workers’ Fund After Firing of Over 50 Pro-Union Workers

Starbucks has reached “historic levels of union busting,” workers say.

Activists participate in an event dubbed the Un-Birthday Party and picket line for Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on July 19, 2022, in New York City.

After months of fierce union busting from Starbucks, including the firing of dozens of pro-union workers, organizing workers are fighting back with a new solidarity fund that will aid Starbucks workers who are facing the company’s anti-union crusade.

Workers announced on Monday that they’re partnering with Coworkers Solidarity Fund to launch the Starbucks’ Workers Fund, a mutual aid fund that will help workers who are unionizing their stores. Starting this fall, these funds will go toward aiding workers who have been affected by the company’s anti-union moves. An independent committee made up of Starbucks employees will determine who benefits from the fund, to which the union encourages the general public to donate.

The fund will go a long way to support workers in the face of the company’s aggressive campaign to stem the tide of unions that is sweeping Starbucks locations across the country, the union says. Many of the union-busting tactics that the company has employed directly affect workers’ incomes; the company has been cutting workers’ hours, firing workers en masse and even closing stores, including unionized locations.

According to Starbucks Workers United, the company has fired over 50 pro-union workers, many for seemingly spurious reasons. In at least two instances so far, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found that pro-union workers’ terminations constituted illegal union busting; earlier this year, the board demanded that the company reinstate workers in Phoenix, Arizona, and Memphis, Tennessee, in hopes of chilling the company’s tirade against its pro-union workers.

“As Starbucks reaches historic levels of union busting, like closing stores and firing over 50 partners, workers are terrified of being targeted next by the company in their war against us,” Alicia Humphrey, a barista from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, said in a statement.

“Having this solidarity fund means that not only do we have solidarity amongst our communities but that we will be able to support ourselves while taking risks to stand up to this billion-dollar company that is infringing on our right to organize,” Humphrey said.

Recently, the company closed 16 stores in Seattle, Ithaca, New York, and elsewhere, giving workers little notice about the closures. Workers were given a choice to transfer to a different location or lose their jobs. Several of the stores were unionized, and the union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint over what it says is clear retaliation or disruption of union activity.

With inflation soaring, and with workers saying that they’re facing cuts to their hours of between two and 15 hours a week, the company recently announced that it would be raising wages for its workers — but only for workers who aren’t organizing or part of a union. The union has also filed a complaint over this action.

Despite the company’s union busting, organizers have been scoring victory after victory. On Friday, workers won their 200th union. Out of the stores that have had their union votes counted, 87 percent have won their union so far.

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