Wobblies Strike Starbucks: Let’s Help Them!

( – promoted by buhdydharma )


IWW Demonstraters at NYC Starbucks (NY TimesPhoto)

The NY Times has the story:

The dramatic battles of the American labor movement were often fought in hazardous settings like the coal fields of Kentucky or the textile mills of Massachusetts.


And so it was that a crowd of about 50 people wrapped in scarves and bandannas against the cold gathered Monday morning outside a Starbucks at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 33rd Street.

As their breath steamed the air, they chanted and sang. They carried long banners bearing the logo of the Industrial Workers of the World, a union founded in 1905 that has been trying to organize Starbucks workers since 2004.

Red and black anarchist flags waved in the wind, and one woman held aloft a placard depicting a pouncing black cat toppling what appeared to be a venti latte cup emblazoned with a dollar sign.

Typical New York Times.  The labor struggle is supposed to be stuck in the 19th century and resemble Matewan or Hazard or Lawrence.  Give me a break.   This is 2008 and it’s time to organize and unionize the global latte retailer.  And don’t remind me, please, that the Wobblies have been trying to organize Starbucks in NYC since 2004 and haven’t succeeded yet.  Please.  Enough is enough.  It’s time.

Folks, can we help the Wobblies organize Starbucks?  Of course we can.  You’re smart.  You drink coffee.  You probably use their bathrooms and their hot spots.  And you know it’s the right thing to do to help a union organize this industry.  Let’s put our heads together and find ways to help.  Put your ideas in the comments.

Of course, one of the things we might do immediately is stop swilling Starbucks in solidarity until they recognize this union.  There are still plenty of non-globalized caffeine emporiums (emporia?) in Gotham and elsewhere in the world where we can download caffeine.  These coffee purveyors have resisted the uniformity and standardized high priced Starbucks invasion.  Instead of Starbucks we can go instead coffee places that are fair trade, organic, locally owned, non Global.  Wouldn’t that be better?  Wouldn’t we feel better about that?  Wouldn’t we be able to snear at Starbucks consumers for being tools of oppression? Scabs? And so not hip?

I’m sure there are other things we can do.  And folks like me, who are on a de facto Starbucks boycott already and have been for some time, probably need to do something to make our feelings felt.  That’s what the comments are for: ideas to support this strike.

Organize Starbucks Already!  Basta Ya!

Updated (5:24 pm ET): I put this up at orange.  Some of the comments are astonishingly anti union.  This is a surprise and a disappointment to me.  To me, it’s an article of faith and reason that organized workers are in a much better position than unorganized workers.  I thought that was beyond debate, but apparently, it’s not.  Even on allegedly progressive/democratic blogs.  For shame.


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    • davidseth on January 22, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    I’m not buying Starbucks again until the black cat is recognized.  I’m with Big Bill Haywood.

  1. …in both incarnations.  Saw what you meant on the orange thread, though it didn’t surprise me — between the “moderates” and libertarian streak, that’s a much more conservative venue than hereabouts.  

    Is it a great labor move?  No idea at all.  They’re defensive enough of their brand it seems likely they’ll stop at nothing to put it down, but they aren’t outright evil so it could work, maybe.  Because it is perceived as a place where maybe it’s hard to get the necessary hours, but health insurance and modest benefits are possible, it’s not going to evoke sympathy unless one gets what unions are for.

    It’s quasi-interesting I guess that in the liberal seattle world “of course I don’t drink starbucks” has a distinctly “uptight seattleite” flavor :}  Of course one prefers the independent coffee shop, or the regular joe.  The thing is, with one on every corner, it is the regular joe…

  2. Meanwhile, I’m unemployed.  Anyone need to hire an essayist?  A college professor?

  3. Let us hope that destroys the fad for worthless self gratification and all that Starbucks stands for.

    Never been in a Starbucks and proud of it!

    • nocatz on January 23, 2008 at 1:20 am

    La lutte des IWW contre la chaine de caf├ęs Starbucks continue.



    frightening cat

    I think I went to Starbucks once years ago to see what the fuss was.  

    • documel on January 23, 2008 at 1:48 am

    I put this up at orange.  Some of the comments are astonishingly anti union.  This is a surprise and a disappointment to me.

    I fear the young ones don’t know much about unions.  Most had unionized teachers and were told their “high” wages caused high taxes.  Reaganomics was called a success by the bullshit media for so long, under 40 year olds think the air traffic controlers were villains.

    Since the anti union corporations fight dirty, we should do so also.  I want to see secondary boycotts.  I want to see a movement to divide and conquer the bastards–a website that would target one corporation per month–asking liberals to avoid that business for 4 weeks.  After Starbucks, let’s boycott  Exxon–most of us live near more than one gas station–so boycotting Exxon would be painless to us.

    • Temmoku on January 23, 2008 at 2:13 am

    Nothing like a good Union to keep the Corporatists in line! What this country needs is more Unions and morerespect for the workers!

  4. in a Starbucks once, and I am a latte fiend. It’s the only way to stay awake in Oregon winters. They are not a good corporation they don’t sell fair trade or organic and now this. In my little corner of the city with a lot of local unique coffee shops, and no major chains they are an intrusion. The money you spend in local businesses stays in the community 3 times as long as the money that goes to corporations it makes a difference, brings prosperity to your community. How can those who don’t frequent Starbucks help?  

  5. First, Starbucks, then __, then ___, — this is the way to go!

    P.S.  Starbucks will have competition soon, as well.  McDonalds is going to open up a cafe line and cheaper.  But, then, McDonalds?

    • OPOL on January 23, 2008 at 3:12 am

    “It is better to die on your feet than to sip latte on the divan!”

    Speedy Gonzalez

    Just being a wise guy of course, I support all revolutionaries.

  6. but I went over to orange…and was also shocked.

    Incredible ignorance…

    they don’t teach unions in school…quite the opposite.

    I suggested to the Berkeley guy that he had some learnin’ to do…and to start with the “Peoples History of The United States”.

    Excellent diary…thanks.

  7. It seems like what currently exists as “the IWW” isn’t much to write home about.

    If they’re incapable of the organizing they’ve apparently taken on, is it helpful? If they leave a bad impression with a generation of Starbucks workers, have they helped the union cause?

    • on January 23, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    some they are

    • nocatz on January 24, 2008 at 2:51 am

    S B already feeling the heat from the riff-raff

    Starbucks testing $1 coffee and free refills

    Grappling with slower consumer spending, competition from fast food rivals


  8. over at orange…

    unless you think it is not worth a response.

    An economist I am not…and I see that he is twisting the argument into something else entirely.

    I am not sure my debating skills (weak), are up to it…but he is such an arrogant ass he deserves to be deflated.

    Or maybe just ignored…

  9. profanity,and general gibbering idiocy…

    well done!

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