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Starbucks Targeted in 20 Cities/4 Countries by IWW

New York, NY- Industrial Workers of the World members and supporters entered Starbucks cafes today in cities across the United States, Canada, and the British Isles to inform workers about their right to form a union. The union members highlighted gains in wages, security of hours, and respect on the job won by baristas who have already joined the IWW. The Day of Action commemorates the second anniversary of the founding of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union on May 17, 2004. Since 2004, baristas have improved their life at work through direct action on the job and in the community despite an illegal anti-union campaign waged by Starbucks and its Chairman Howard Schultz.

“Our message for our co-workers is simple: the IWW Starbucks Workers Union is here to help,” said Suley Ayala, a Starbucks barista and IWW member in New York City. “Employees don't have to go through the indignities of working at Starbucks alone anymore-together we'll continue our march toward a living wage, guaranteed work hours, and most importantly, respect.”

In U.S. cities including Grand Rapids, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta in addition to cities in Europe and Canada including Edmonton, Newcastle, and Edinburgh, IWW members talked with workers and shared union leaflets until they were kicked out of stores in accordance with Starbucks' union avoidance policy. In addition to highlighting the IWW's material gains at Starbucks, the union leaflets detail the landmark government settlement in March that invalidated two of Starbucks' national anti-union policies and resulted in the reinstatement of two IWW members who were discharged by the company because of their organizing activity.

“I'm taking a stand today because Starbucks workers deserve better than a poverty wage,” remarked Greg Giorgio, an IWW member who visited Starbucks cafes today in Albany, New York. “The IWW baristas have proven that grassroots solidarity works.”

The SWU has taken an innovative approach, known as solidarity unionism, in their campaign against the coffee giant. In the solidarity unionism model, workers themselves formulate strategy and take action against the company directly without mediation from government or paid union representatives. Membership is open to Starbucks workers around the globe and throughout the company's supply chain.

“Our union branch in Edinburgh was very pleased to tell the local baristas that their sisters and brothers in the IWW are waiting with open arms,” said Barbara Scott, an IWW member that visited several of the company's stores in Scotland's capital city. “It's time for the labor movement to confront the multinational corporations with global solidarity from below.”

Day of action participants vowed to continue the escalated outreach effort until every Starbucks worker rises out of poverty and Chairman Howard Schultz stops violating international law protecting the right to freedom of association in a labor union.

The action comes as increased labor militancy rocks the globe including an unprecedented show of force by low-wage workers in the United States on May 1, International Workers Day or May Day.

“I simply want to give a heartfelt thanks to all the hard working women and men who have honored us with their solidarity these last two years,” said Daniel Gross, an IWW organizer and Starbucks barista. “Thank you for imagining with us a more humane world where workers and community members control their workplaces and communities as opposed to a dictatorship of the corporations. Please stay with us as we fight on towards victory.”