scores big bucks from Nevada school kids
VP praises Nevada business climate
to increase production over next 5years
City Nevada Appeal 3-8-2003
million Starbucks roasting plant opens
Nevada Appeal 1-6-2003
plant construction rapidly proceeding
General Motors & Sen. McCarran's armpit mirage
Corporate welfare special report
expands planned Nevada roasting facility
CHAMPIONS (Sydney, 9-28-2000) During the Summer Olympic Games,
Australian union members participated in an international day of
protest in support of workers at the Kent, Washington, USA, Starbucks
Carson City, Nev.
(Nov. 16, 2001)
City Nevada Appeal managing editor Barry
Smith today humorously and heavily criticized the Nevada Commission
on Economic Development for its conduct in granting a $2 million tax break
first, take public comment second. Probably many public boards have considered
the idea, but it took the state Economic Development Commission to actually
put it in practice," Smith writes.
a time-saver! What a refinement of the democratic process! What a step
toward more efficient government!" Read
the full story.
(Dec. 4, 2001) Retired
Carson City reporter Thomas Wilson hurls another
Vegas, Nev. (Nov.
Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt,
R-Las Vegas, refused to allow a discouraging word and railroaded a $2 million
Starbucks tax subsidy through the state corporate welfare commission which
she chairs. Northern Nevada construction union members attempted to testify
before the Nevada Commission on Economic Development but Hunt would not
Much of the $2
million will come directly from the school children of Douglas County.
Labor leaders are reviewing legal options. Click here
to read the Reno Gazette-Journal story. Click here
to access the Carson City Nevada Appeal's report.
it will pay workers an average hourly wage of $16.38 to qualify for the
subsidies but has
refused to provide public documentation. Most workers at its Kent,
Wash., roasting plant near Seattle make far less. Thanks to this tax hearing,
we now know that the same will be true in Nevada.
a history of unfair treatment of its workers," stated Richard
"Skip" Daly, business manager of Laborers' International Union Local
"Now that they
are expanding beyond retail into construction and manufacturing in this
region, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada
has voted to inform our members and the general public," Daly added.
COMMISSION ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Considers Starbucks tax breaks
November 14, 2001, 9:30 a.m. PST
Sawyer Office Building, Room 4412 B&C
555 E. Washington Avenue, Las Vegas, NV
Legislative Building, Room 2144, 401 S. Carson Street, Carson City, NV
Listen/View Meeting on the Nevada Legislature's Website
stonewalls information requests from Nevada workers
From the defensive tenor
of a story in the
Nov. 13 Reno Gazette-Journal, it is apparent that labor pressure
has already had an impact. We made state officials aware of past incidents
in which high executive salaries were used to pad tax break applications,
while most workers got very low pay. Nevada Commission on Economic Development
spokesman Timothy Rubald
told the Gazette-Journal that the Starbucks roasting plant manager's
salary has not been included in the average hourly wage computation
justifying the tax abatements. However, NCED refused any information
to organized labor about Starbucks wages, citing company invocation
of Nevada corporate welfare secrecy statutes. [NRS 231.069; NRS 241.020(4)]
When the Nevada Legislature
passed these incentives, lawmakers were very clear about not wanting
to create more low wage jobs. In fact, NCED Business Development Director
Rubald authored the definitive study about
the negative impacts of low wage jobs on Nevada and this website
has been its only publisher for more than two years.
State officials have hidden
behind secrecy statutes in denying almost every union request for information.
We were told we could only have a three -page application and a two-page
staff-written summary. We asked for the addenda noted thereon as attached
but not included. One of those documents concerns the personal property
tax abatement. The application states "see attached impact model"
for that information.
That "impact model" was not attached to the material we received.
According to Gazette-Journal reporter Tim Anderson, that tax break amounts
to a mere $590,000 bringing Starbucks' tax freebies to almost
$2 million, all put together behind
TO WORK FOR LESS IN NEVADA:
commission's web page containing an anti-union sales pitch.
Starbucks keep its promise
Starbucks wants you to believe:
to be in communities we like and communities that will welcome us," said
Rick Arthur, Starbucks vice president of operations. "We provide high-quality,
good paying jobs." (Associated
Press in the 4-23-2001 Las Vegas Sun)
Starbucks is actually doing
- Starbucks has
said it will pay the lowest possible construction wages at its new Douglas
County, Nev., roasting plant. Wages falling below area
standards drag down every worker's paycheck.
new plant will pump 100
tons of new pollutants into Nevada/Lake Tahoe air.
- Starbucks just
$2 million in corporate
welfare tax-cut freebies which must be made up by Nevada taxpayers
to subsidize community services which Starbucks will require (such as
police and fire protection, roads and schools).
out-of-state general contractor was fined $56,000 by the Nevada
State Contractors Board for illegally operating without a license.
- For more than
two years, Starbucks stonewalled on signing a contract with workers
at its Kent, Washington, roasting facility despite employees winning
two majority votes in federally supervised elections. (Kent,
Wash., maintenance mechanics and technicians ratified a first contract
on October 27, 2001. For more information, contact Rene
Jankiewicz at International Union
of Operating Engineers Local 286.)
- Workers have
filed local, state and federal charges of intimidation, coercion, discrimination,
health & safety violations and physical assault regarding the Washington
state roasting plant.
- Starbucks Washington
managers have filed suit alleging that they were forced to work
more information, please contact
& Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada/AFL-CIO
Hymer Avenue * Sparks, NV 89431 * (775) 355-9200
Starbucks what you think
Thomas Pasinger, Nevada Roasting Plant Manager
2401 Utah Ave. South,
Mail stop S - SC5
Seattle, WA 98134
Phone (206) 318-5036, Fax (206) 318-2344
Lincoff, Director of Public Affairs
2401 Utah Ave. South,
Mail stop S - CM 1
Seattle, WA 98134
Phone (206) 318-5013, Fax (206) 318-2083
Chairman Howard Schultz
Ninth Circuit Court rules for picketers and protestors in landmark case
All western states bound Union demonstrators
must be allowed access to public areas
a copy of the decision, request
and we'll e-mail it to you in pdf format.
Gazette-Journal editorially praises decision
information distributed by union members in Washington State
Starbucks stores cited for 422 health code violations
According to the
King County Department of Health, since January 1, 2000, Starbucks stores
in King County have been cited for 422 violations of the health code,
- 104 times for
wiping cloths not being clean, moistened with an approved sanitizer,
or restricted in use 54 times for inadequate handwashing facilities
- 36 times for lacking
accurate thermometers in refrigerators to make sure that food is refrigerated
at the proper temperature
- 27 times for not
storing potentially hazardous food at the correct temperature
26 times for food
workers lacking proper permits other violations include inadequate or
unclean toilet facilities, incorrect sanitizing or dishwashing, food not
protected from contamination and ineffective pest control measures
action against Starbucks health code violations
- Fill out a Starbucks
customer comment card.
- Ask the manager
if this Starbucks has health code violations.
- E-mail Starbucks
Chairman Howard Schultz
and public affairs director Audrey
- Call Starbucks
Customer Relations at (206) 447-1575 extension 82900.
- Let Starbucks
know your opinion of Starbucks stores health code violations.
more information, please contact
International Union of Operating
Engineers Local 286
Local 286 is involved in a labor dispute with Starbucks. We have no
dispute with any other employer at this location. We are not asking any
individual to cease performing any services, or to refuse to pick up,
deliver, handle or transport any goods.
By Doug Nielson
a lot like working for Disney. Disneyland may be 'the greatest place
on earth' to visit, but I was in [IUOE] local 501 in Los Angeles, and
Disneyland wasn't the greatest place on earth to work."
Alexander, five-year veteran of Starbucks' roasting plant in Kent, Wash.
Back in 1999 when Howard
Starbucks CEO, heard that the maintenance workers in one of his two
US roasting plants were likely to vote in a union, he drove the 15 miles
from corporate headquarters to Kent, Washington, for a private meeting
with the 22 employees. He didn't offer to remedy any of the workers'
complaints, but he did give reassurances of his blue collar roots and
offered stories from his book, "Pour Your Heart Into It."
Apparently, Howard's father
broke his leg while working as a diaper truck driver and since he didn't
have any health insurance
(with the presumably non-union diaper company), Howard's family suffered.
Howard reiterated, as he has done many times before, that because of
his early experiences with poverty, even his part-time workers would
always have health insurance. He didn't offer to reverse the recently
instituted health benefit cuts or remedy the company's arbitrary and
unfair wage and promotion practices.
Most importantly, he didn't
address the workers' demand for a fixed benefit retirement plan.
Jeff Alexander remembers
looking out the window after the talk and wondering what percentage
of Howard's $14 million salary he had spent on the brand new Jaguar
parked near his own aging Suburban.The
way Schultz arrived at the decision to begin providing health benefits
to part-time employees in May 1991 is instructive of Starbucks overall
business strategy. Schultz realized that with recruitment and training
costs running at $3,000 for each new employee (Starbucks gives new employees
24 hours of training in the fine points of coffee beans, brewing and
customer service), he could save a lot of money by paying half that
amount per employee for healthcare insurance.
Two-thirds of his work
force were part-time workers. The result of this policy was, as Thompson
and Strickland point out in their book Strategic Management,
"Whereas most national retailers and fast-food chains had turnover
rates for store employees ranging from 150 to 400 percent a year, the
turnover rates for Starbucks' baristas ran about 65 percent." Starbucks
gained a lot of praise for offering healthcare benefits to workers working
more than 20 hours a week, including even an invitation to the Clinton
White House in April 1994. Health Insurance for part-timers is so rare
in this country that it merits a commendation for business ethics
from a US president.
The health insurance policy
had the additional benefit of allowing Starbucks to recruit a more educated
class of barista. Without the largely minority and immigrant employees
of, say, a McDonalds, Shultz was able to maintain the upscale white
middle class ambiance he preferred for his gourmet coffee stores. After
the International Union of Operating
Engineers (IUOE) won a union recognition vote on Nov. 14, 1999,
Starbucks launched a vigorous anti-union campaign. Surveillance cameras
were installed in the lunchroom and at the entrances to the plant. Union
supporters have been suspended without pay for such petty offenses as
swearing. They have had unsubstantiated safety complaints filed against
them and have been denied promotions.
Maintenance workers who
quit have not been replaced, so that the original 22 are now down to
18. Don Goodson's
case provides a good example of the current atmosphere in the plant.
He was hired (in early 2001) on the recommendation of a worker who had
been persuaded to file for a union decertification vote. Management
focused their attention on Don as the key person needed to vote the
union out. But Don's mind was made up in favor of the union after management
told him the union was proposing a retirement plan.
"Workers need a pension
plan. Right now we're just gambling on the stock market to take care
of us in our old age. That's not a risk I’d like to take," he reasoned.
After the decertification failed, Starbucks charged Don with making
derogatory remarks to another worker. Despite witness accounts to the
contrary, he was moved to the graveyard shift.
for a contract
After voting in the union
nearly two years ago and going through many negotiation sessions, the
maintenance workers at the Kent roasting facility are still waiting
for a comprehensive contract offer from Starbucks. The company has offered
to give a retirement benefit in exchange for a wage freeze, no improvement
in health benefit costs, revoking the "Bean Stock" (Starbucks'
term for stock in the company which employees receive every year equivalent
to 14% of their salary), revoking the Stock Incentive Plan (SIP) and
other miscellaneous small perks, but has refused to put a dollar figure
on the exchange. (Editors' note: Starbucks' Kent, Wash., maintenance
mechanics and technicians ratified a first contract on Saturday October
27, 2001. For more information, contact Rene
Jankiewicz at International Union
of Operating Engineers Local 286.)
The union is asking for
a standardized wage scale and promotion practices based on experience
and demonstrable skills. Right now, for example, wages in the department
range from $15 to $24 per /hour, with new hires often brought in near
the top of the wage scale because of a current high market demand for
their skills. People who have beenwith the company for years and are
highly skilled and knowledgeable about the plant are often denied opportunities
for advancement. Each worker is forced to negotiate individually with
a constant stream of new supervisors and managers who seem like mere
trainees for higher corporate positions in Starbucks' rapidly expanding
The company reported on
July 26 that it is on track to open 1,200 new stores in fiscal year
2001, with 825 in the United States and 375 abroad. Revenue climbed
20% in the third quarter compared to last year and is expected to climb
an additional 25% in the 2002 fiscal year.
your Bean Stock and eating it, too
After five years of working
at Starbucks, Jeff Alexander is looking forward to being able to cash
out his first installment of "bean stock." He may get $5,000
but would prefer to have money in a retirement fund. It is not widely
known that employees don't actually get to own this bean stock. They
are only allowed to hold it for a minimum of five years. At the time
of redemption, they are allowed to keep any difference between the original
price and the current price.
It could be argued that
this benefit actually costs Starbucks nothing since the workers will
only get a benefit if the stock price goes up. If the price stays even
or goes down they will not receive a dime. This is an even more risky
plan for saving than common 401K retirement plans.
The union would normally
expect a $2.50 per hour employer contribution to its pension fund but
is willing to settle for $0.50 per hour from Starbucks just to get an
initial contract. Many of the employees, particularly the 180 in the
packaging and distribution departments who earn from $9 to $11 an hour,
are forced to redeem as much Bean Stock as they can every year just
to meet their families' basic necessities.
For those who can afford
it, Starbucks also offers the SIP (Stock Incentive Plan), which allows
employees to purchase Starbucks stock at a 15% discount if they hold
on to it for at least two years.
busting in a union town
IUOE members are proud
of one small victory achieved in the process of trying to negotiate
a union contract. A cut in healthcare benefits sparked the current union
drive in the first place. Consequently, early in negotiations, management
suggested they might be willing to increase the company's share of health
insurance premiums from 75% to 90%. In the end, this improvement was
granted to the entire plant with the exception of unionized workers.
The attempt by Starbucks
to torpedo support for the union among the technicians and mechanics
in the maintenance department actually backfired and instead raised
support for the union among the 180 lower-skilled workers in the packaging
and distribution departments. These are primarily minority workers including
immigrants from at least 7 different nations.
Many had been paying
up to $160 a month for health insurance for their families. Seattle
has traditionally been a union town and before Howard Schultz and his
group of investors bought out Starbucks in 1987, the United Food and
Commercial Workers (UFCW) union had organized it. Schultz managed to
get his coffee bars decertified within four months of taking over, but
it took another five years to de-unionize the roasting and warehouse
After breaking the UFCW
baristas local, Schultz began to see the wisdom of one of their key
demands: healthcare benefits for part-time workers. As Jan Pelroy, IUOE
local 286 business manager explains, "Schultz is a type of person
who goes through life having epiphanies."
The union is hoping to
induce a new epiphany in Howard, or simply modify an old one. Not only
should Howard's father have had health care insurance but he also should
have had a pension. It may be hard for Howard to understand this, but
not everyone can depend on a rich son like himself to support them in
their old age.
This time around, the
maintenance workers are up against a powerful multinational corporation
with deep pockets, the best lawyers money can buy and a local media
which prefers to write stories about such things as Howard's recent
fulfillment of a boyish fantasy with his purchase of the Seattle Supersonics
basketball team. (No word yet on Howard's attitude toward the NBA basketball
on the dog
Jeff sums up management's
strategy, as one of stall and persecute.
"If they can get
rid of us by decertification, then the story they will tell is not that
they squashed the union but that the workers didn't want a union. The
'partners' [Starbucks' term for employees] didn't feel the need,"
Howard Schultz is fond
of referring to Starbucks as "a company with a soul."
Considering its union-busting
history, Jeff sees it as the soul of "a dog that's killed chickens.
Once they've killed, it ’s hard to stop them from doing it again."
The stakes are high for
the 18 workers involved in this battle. They have received considerable
outside support from sources such as Jobs With Justice, Global Exchange,
the Washington State Labor Council, the King County Labor Council, the
Organic Consumers Association (who are fighting Starbucks' use of Bovine
Growth Hormone in their milk), and the Canadian Auto Workers Union (which
has organized 12 Starbucks outlets in British Columbia).
They have even received
support from the Australian Public Finance Workers Union who demonstrated
against Starbucks at the Australian Olympics. (See photo at the top
of this page.)
Starbucks and its shady
business practices are spreading like a cancer across the globe. There
may not be much we can do about that, but our movement which was born
here in Seattle can make sure that wherever Starbucks goes, unions will
follow with a different kind of globalization in mind a globalization
of resistance and dignity.
If Kent's workers win,
we all win.
Originally published in Left Turn Magazine. Reproduced
by permission of the author.