OPINION: It’s time to stand up to corporate bullying


Starbucks should be getting publicly roasted for union busting and refusing to even negotiate with unionized workers.

You see, if there’s one thing I love more than coffee, it’s unions. Because unions perk up pay.

And if there’s one thing I hate more than corporations who try to bust unions, it’s having to make my own coffee every morning.

I may be known for a lot of things, but making a good cup of coffee isn’t one of them.

I was thrilled to hear about workers in Starbucks’ stores across the country exercising their right to unionize.

A cup of solidarity brewed by a unionized barista? What could be better than that?

Definitely not me being my own barista.

Starbucks is a multibillion dollar company. Its new CEO will start with a pay package estimated to be worth over $28 million dollars. That’s roughly 800 times the pay of the workers who actually brew and serve the coffee the business is built on — and who barely earn a living wage.

That’s why those workers have begun to unionize.

Since December 2021, Starbucks Workers United has won union elections in more than 300 Starbucks stores, covering more than 8,000 workers and counting.

And most of the union campaigns in individual stores won by overwhelming margins, gaining more than 70 percent of the total votes — and in parts of the country where private sector unions rarely win.

The Starbucks union campaign has inspired young workers across the country and breathed life into a U.S. Labor Movement that has been stagnant for decades.

It’s been so successful that Starbucks briefly brought its former CEO, billionaire Howard Schultz, out of retirement to bust the union, and still refuses to even sit down at the bargaining table.

That’s why I’ve been boycotting Starbucks.

As part of its campaign to tamp down further unionization, Starbucks corporate has fired scores of pro-union workers, closed stores that have unionized, threatened to withhold wage and benefit improvements from stores considering unionizing, and packed stores with outside managers to undermine organizing efforts.

The National Labor Relations Board, which oversees all union elections in the U.S., has issued more than 93 complaints covering 328 unfair labor practice charges against Starbucks — and ordered reinstatement of at least 23 fired workers so far.

Yet Starbucks is unwilling to change its anti-union ways — even though Schultz was grilled in front of Congress.

Starbucks claims to be a “progressive” company.

But based on the way it’s broken labor law and put unionized workers in the percolator, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Now is an opportunity for all of us to make our voices heard and to tell Starbucks to stop UNION BUSTING and bargain in good faith with Starbucks Workers United.

And it’s time for Joe Biden, who calls himself the “most pro-union president in American history,” to send a powerful message: we won’t tolerate union-busting by Starbucks or any other corporation — including Elon Musk’s Tesla and Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.

Otherwise, my boycott will continue — and perhaps you’ll consider joining me.

If we want to brew a future where workers have power and dignity, then we need to show solidarity with unions.

And stand up to corporate bullying.

(Robert Reich is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.)

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