Black Friday: Wobblies to Return to the Mall of America
Feeling the economic squeeze, Baristas rally for cost-of-living wage increase as Starbucks slashes labor costs
Rally: 10am, Lake and Hiawatha, take Light Rail and Carpool to the Mall of America
Picket: 11am November 28, Mall of America North Side Parking Lot
The Starbucks Workers Union announced plans to take action against Starbucks on “Black Friday,” November 28th, the busiest shopping day of the year, to underscore union Baristas demand for fair wages for workers, and transparency in bean purchasing to ensure a fair wage for coffee growers. Union Baristas and supporters will picket the Mall of America on the morning of Black Friday to draw attention to the plight of the nation’s retail workers, fanning out to Starbucks locations across the Metro area in the afternoon to press their demands. The union’s announcement comes before what is expected to be the worst sales season for retailers ever due to the recession.
Erik Forman, a Barista at the Mall of America location, said, “On Black Friday, union supporters will head to the Mall of America, but we won’t be going shopping. Instead, we have a message for workers: it’s time to organize for an independent voice on the job. Consumerism and corporate greed got us into this mess, only union solidarity will get us out.”
According to SEC filings, Starbucks made a profit of $315.5 million in FY 2008. Despite sky-high earnings in the last two years, Starbucks has not increased base level pay for Baristas since October 2006. The Starbucks Workers Union is demanding an immediate cost-of-living pay increase for all workers at the chain to offset the impact of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
The Union has extended solidarity to coffee farmers as well. Baristas demand that Starbucks release the locations of its coffee plantations in the interest of transparency and accountability.
Aaron Kocher, a union worker at the Franklin and Nicollet store said, “While we are here struggling to pay the bills working at Starbucks, coffee farmers around the world are literally struggling to survive. Yet, while our situations are so different, we, the Starbucks workers, and all workers in this country, have more in common with exploited farmers than we do with the millionaires who own and run our companies. As Bill Heywood once said, "labor produces all wealth. All wealth must go to labor.’ We need to stop overpaid CEOs and investors from stealing what is ours.”
The Union delegation to the Mall of America will be the first since Labor Day weekend, when 40 union supporters were sealed into a train and sent back to Minneapolis by riot police while attempting to escort an illegally fired organizer back to his first day at work at Starbucks. A federal charge brought by the Industrial Workers of the World against Mall of America management over police conduct is currently pending.
Watch video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnK3I_zDuk0
Background on the Starbucks Workers Union
The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is a grassroots organization of over 200 current and former employees of the world's largest coffee chain united for secure hours and a living wage. The Union has members throughout the United States fighting for systemic change in the company and remedying individual grievances with management. The SWU has been especially active in New York City, Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Minneapolis.