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IWW Starbucks Workers Union Update

IWW Starbucks Workers Union Update and Call-In Day Aug. 1, 2005

Posted July 18, 2005

May 24, 2005- Starbucks terminates IWW member Sarah Bender, a worker at the 17th St. and 1st Ave. store in Manhattan, for her union activity. Fellow Worker Bender's termination marks the first time since the founding of the Starbucks Workers Union over a year ago that the company has fired a worker purely for union organizing. Starbucks learned that Sarah was associated with the Starbucks Workers Union after she hosted a party attended by Union members. Since then, the company has arbitrarily disciplined her to build a phony case for firing her. The pretext for her termination was that she allegedly came out six dollars short on her cash register. On the day in question FW Bender counted the money in her till, determined she had the correct amount, and placed the money in a sealed plastic bag. She then deposited the bag into the store safe. Sarah's store manager, Noura Glenn, subsequently unsealed the bag and falsely claimed there was a shortage. Please lend a hand in the national Call-In Day Against Starbucks on Monday August 1 to demand Sarah Bender's reinstatement. The details are at the end of this update.

May 28, 2005- A group of workers at the Starbucks Store on 9th St. and 2nd Ave. serve their bosses with a declaration of Union membership! The baristas and shift supervisors reiterated the demand of the Starbucks Workers Union for a guaranteed minimum number of hours scheduled each week. Currently, workers have no idea how many or how few hours of work they will receive each week. Without knowing how much income one will take in every month, paying for life's necessities becomes all too precarious. 9th and 2nd workers also joined the Starbucks Workers Union in demanding Sarah Bender's reinstatement and a cessation of Starbucks' fierce anti-union campaign. Starbucks managers instigated the NYPD to write up disorderly conduct tickets to three Wobblies and a community ally who were part of a support effort outside the store. A judge threw out the charges.

June 4, 2005- 60 workers and community members converged on the 17th and 1st Starbucks to protest the firing of Sarah Bender. The crowd was energized and this was just the beginning of the penalty Starbucks will incur for firing FW Bender. NBC covered the event with interviews from Sarah Bender and Staten Island native Pete Montalbano, a Wobbly barista at the 9th and 2nd store.

June 15, 2005- The NLRB trial on Starbucks' anti-union threats, bribes, and surveillance scheduled for this date was postponed by the Board to investigate the firing of Sarah Bender and discrimination against Anthony Polanco. The Union objected to the delay arguing that separate trials could be held as Starbucks continued to break the law in its attempt to stop workers from standing together for a better life on the job.

June 18, 2005- New York Times delivery workers respected the IWW picket line at the 9th and 2nd store. Starbucks management became visibly enraged. No newspapers were delivered that day. Union worker Pete Montalbano got sent home early for talking union in front of customers prompting an ad-hoc grievance committee to confront the boss. The picket was generally well received by would-be patrons and stores sales took a definite hit. Leafleting actions are ongoing with thousands of flyers already handed out to community members and customers.

June 25, 2005- A contingent of IWW members at Starbucks in NYC celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Industrial Workers of the World in Chicago! Starbucks Workers Union members were so pleased to learn more about all the profound work taking place across the One Big Union. We'd like to thank everyone for the pledges of solidarity to the IWW campaign at Starbucks and for the generous donations to the Sarah Bender Defense Fund.

July 6, 2005- Fired Starbucks Wobbly Sarah Bender begins working at Vox Pop coffee shop in Brooklyn. Vox Pop is IWW-organized and serves only fair trade coffee. Sarah's resolve to combat Starbucks and get her job back is undiminished.

July 17, 2005- 25 unionists and community supporters converge on Starbucks outlets around the city to talk to employees about their right to join the Union. After the flying squads, participants reunited for a Labor-Community picnic to energize support for Sarah Bender.

July 17, 2005- Faced with increasing criticism from the IWW over its relentless anti-union campaign, Starbucks spends thousands on a full-page ad in the Sunday New York Times claiming it’s a socially responsible company.

Recent Media:

Philly Indymedia- "NYC Starbucks Workers vs. Anti-union Policies"

Workers Independent News Service- "Starbucks New York Worker Says She was Fired for Union Activity"

Business Week- "Labor Pains: A Bitter Aroma at Starbuck's"

New York Magazine- "A Union Revolution is Brewing at Starbucks"

Action Steps:


We must impose a material cost on Starbucks for finally stooping to the level of firing a worker for organizing activity.

On Monday August 1, call Starbucks NYC Regional Director Alex Perez expressing your disgust that he fired Sarah Bender and demanding she be reinstated:

Phone: 212-613-1280 ext. 2202

Next, Starbucks will not be permitted to derail our organizing with fear tactics! Therefore, it's critical to continue to reach out to Starbucks workers everywhere to let them know about the Starbucks Workers Union. Materials, including the new 'Worker Support Team' flyer, are available to help at:

Finally, FW Bender is coordinating her own defense and is in serious need of financial assistance for campaign expenses. Stand with Sarah as she refuses to get swept under the rug by Chairman Howard Schultz, one of America's leading corporate fraudsters. Make a contribution and/or ask your local union branch to do the same. The Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch has kicked things off with a generous contribution. Checks can be made out to the Starbucks Workers Union and sent to:

Sarah Bender, 260 Irving Ave. #3L, Brooklyn, NY 11237

Campaign updates will continue to be available at --