These two big companies that make a lot of profits are facing unionization efforts and have resorted to disgusting union-busting tactics. This is of course no surprise for Amazon, one of the most openly rapacious of companies but Starbucks does not have such a bad reputation and this union-busting is tearing the mask off to reveal that it is not that different from Amazon in its anti-worker ethos.
An Amazon union avoidance official told employees at JFK8, Amazon’s largest New York City warehouse, that if they unionize, certain workers could see their salaries reduced to minimum wage, or that negotiations could start with minimum wage as a baseline, according to leaked audio from the mandatory anti-union meeting that took place Wednesday and was obtained by Motherboard.
Much of the tenor of the 14-minute meeting, held at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse that is currently trying to unionize, was like this, with Amazon’s representative stressing that the election has “significant and binding consequences not just for yourselves but for future associates, your coworkers, and potentially for your family.” The subtext of the entire speech was that things could very possibly become worse for workers if they unionize, and that they should think very, very hard before voting to do so.
Under the National Labor Relations Act, it is illegal for employers to prevent, interfere with, or retaliate against workers who organize to form unions. According to the Economic Policy Institute, unionized workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement earn 10.2 percent more than non-unionized workers in the same sectors.
In addition to holding weekly mandatory anti-union meetings, Amazon representatives at JFK8 have pulled workers aside to interrogate them about their union activities, surveilled them, barred them from distributing union literature, confiscated literature, and referred to union organizers as “thugs,” according to a federal complaint filed in late January.
Starbucks is also trying to union-bust in a big way.
Starbucks, the multinational coffee giant known for its “progressive” branding, is employing an array of dubious anti-labor tactics as more and more company employees from around the country unionize in protest of poor working conditions.
Over the past several weeks, Starbucks has inundated workers with anti-union text messages and held “captive audience meetings,” where workers are forced to attend management-led lectures about the apparent downsides of unionizing.
The company has also launched its own website dedicated to dissauding workers from organizing. The site puts special emphasis on the “burden” of union dues and reminds employees that they might not qualify for company benefits under a union.
Most notably, the company has outright fired employees who have taken part in or led the union effort. Earlier this month, the company sacked seven workers in a Memphis location that is currently mulling union representation, escalating tensions between employees and management. Among those targeted were five out of the six of the store’s union committee members, as well as two pro-union employees. The company attributed the firings to “significant violations” of safety and security, according to The Washington Post.
But Casey Moore, spokesperson for Starbucks Workers United, told the outlet that “if Starbucks had consistently fired people for the violations they fired Memphis workers over, they would have a hard time keeping many people on staff at all.”
But the Starbucks effort it may be backfiring on them.
Thus far, the company’s counteroffensive appears to be failing. At least 100 company locations throughout 26 states have held union drives, with likely more to come.
“We were inspired by the partners in Buffalo that managed to do something many of us have dreamed of for a long time,” Hannah McCown, a Starbucks barista in Overland, Kansas, told The Guardian. “It’s something we didn’t think was possible, but they really pushed through and showed the rest of us across the nation that we could use our voices and actually unionize.”
Unions in the US have been in retreat for decades. I hope that these efforts succeed and lead to a resurgence in their fortunes.
No matter how liberal the plantation owners claim to be, they never like it when the slaves get uppity.
In other news, Amazon just announced they are closing all of their physical “bookstores”. (Actually, they weren’t really bookstores, they were Amazon Prime sales kiosks with a few bookcases for decoration.) I wonder what kind of severance package all those non-unionized employees are going to get?
“Unions in the US have been in retreat for decades.”
That is because corporate bosses and politicians have worked for decades to keep the white working class and the non-white working class at each other’s throats.
“I hope that these efforts succeed and lead to a resurgence in their fortunes.”
Only if whites finally realize that they have much more common cause with non-whites than they do with the white billionaires.
With very large corporations like Starbucks, rapacity is implicit, safe to assume unless the company goes to great lengths to refute the assumption. This move simply makes the default assumption about them explicit.
Marcus Ranum says
Its kind of … anti- “worker’s rights” that the government feels it has any basis to interfere with the establishment of a “free market” for labor. I’m sure all our free-market and “right to work” folks are bitterly chafed that there are any laws whatsoever governing the worker’s right to unionize. (Crickets)
“Unions in the US have been in retreat for decades”
Not all unions. Police unions are the most powerful organisations in the US. Consider : they can kill people on the street, in front of cameras, in broad daylight, with impunity. Not even the CIA can do that.
How nice of them to reveal their plans so that unions will have a clear idea going in of the things they need to be sure are in any contract.
Well, don’t buy anything from them.
I never have and never will use Amazon.
I never have and never will buy any fake food from McDonald.
But I knew nothing about Starbuck, so I never used them simply because their coffee is awful.