Across the USA, a wave of union activity is hitting the ubiquitous storefronts of the Starbucks brand. The baristas and “partners” calling for union elections are on the frontline of one of the most crucial sites of struggle in the country at the moment, bringing a new culture of labor militancy and agitation to the coffee counters of this massive conglomerate that until recently had been able to fend off the idea of unions entirely. Once the floodgates opened, however, the minions of comical failed presidential candidate Howard Schulz (who came back from retirement to oversee this most ignominous and still ongoing defeat) were powerless to resist the union tide.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to pitch in here in Portland, OR, and so I’ve been coordinating with the Portland DSA to make some banners and signs for use in local organizing efforts. It’s going great so far- every store that has filed for a union election has won their vote, a total of eight stores in Portland metro!
The work of fighting for a union teaches some important lessons, and helps to create the kind of practical political culture that we seriously need right now: figuring out how to support each other, how to define and fight for a better world, and how to win and keep on winning. Here’s hoping this wave keeps crashing over the breakwater!
Read an excellent article about union organizing efforts at Portland area Starbucks in Northwest Labor Press.