16 March 2010

Tom Keough : The Unionization of Starbucks and the Rape of Kati Moore

California teen girl sues Starbucks over sexual abuse

Seattle-based Starbucks is feeling the heat over an ex-worker's accusations of sex abuse on the job. And an ABC News investigation has uncovered evidence that it's part of a nationwide trend of young women being taken advantage of by older managers.

Beyond its strong coffee and steamed milk, Starbucks presents itself as a trusted corporate citizen. "It's not the bricks and mortar that make Starbucks, it's the human relations of our people and the experience," says Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

That family feeling is one of the reasons Katie Moore [in other sources her name is spelled "Kati"] says she applied to work at Starbucks when she turned 16... But within months, she says, her job as a barista at a Starbucks store in an Orange County, Calif., shopping center turned into something quite different...

In the case of Katie Moore at Starbucks, the supervisor, Tim Horton, pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor and spent four months in prison. But Katie Moore's mother says Starbucks and places with high school employees need to do more. "You know, they have a responsibility to these teenagers," says Joanna Moore...

Moore is now suing Starbucks, alleging [the] 24-year old supervisor essentially turned her into his sex toy, in a court case that has turned ugly as she claims Starbucks did little to protect her from him, and Starbucks claims it's her own fault...

seattle pi / January 24, 2010
Organizing the baristas:
The IWW and the Starbucks Workers Union

By Tom Keough / The Rag Blog / March 16, 2010

I do cartoons for the Starbucks workers who are trying to unionize and get better working conditions. The Kati Moore rape case exemplifies the company's total lack of care for an employee and automatic support for anything a manager does.

When I first heard that the majority at a New York City Starbucks announced that they wanted a union contract I was amazed. When I was growing up, almost everyone I knew had either worked at McDonalds at some time or had family working there. My father had tried organizing McDonalds workers in Connecticut when he worked there. The biggest problem seemed to be that no union wanted fast food workers.

I'll never forget seeing the mothers of two of my friends, almost in tears, talking about how unfair it was that the men at Pratt and Whitney or Colts could have unions, but not them. McDonalds work is hot, greasy, hard, fast, exhausting work.

So I try to help the Starbucks Workers Union, which was organized by the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) in the U.S. and Canada. There is a union organizing campaign well under way in Chile and efforts have started in Europe. In New Zealand all the fast food chain restaurants are owned by one man and the employees are all union.

The Starbucks workers face a number of unique problems. The company has a nationwide policy of no full time employment for non-management workers. This way they avoid having to pay benefits. Their U.S. employees also have no set schedules. A lawyer for Starbucks once said that this is to prevent part-time staffers from getting second jobs. If you work there you won’t know the next week's schedule until two or three days before the week starts.

Starbucks boasts that they offer health insurance for their employees but they make it almost impossible to get or to keep. To have the option of buying this insurance you need to work an average of 20 hours per week for the three-month quarter. The employees have no say in how many hours they work. Some weeks they may work 45 hours and the next week only seven. So the health insurance is really only a public relations stunt to impress customers.

In the shops where the baristas have announced their desire to unionize, Starbucks has refused to recognize the union. BUT in those shops, improvements have suddenly occurred. The first shop to go union soon became the first Starbucks to give all employees a December holiday cash bonus. In other locations safety and other improvements were made. In the U.S. the union has taken the company to court and won every time, despite the company's highly paid lawyers.
  • Go here to learn more about the IWW Starbucks Workers Union.
  • Go here to read the Starbucks Union's Statement of Solidarity with barista Kati Moore who was sexually assaulted by her supervisor.
Cartoons by Tom Keough / The Rag Blog.

The Rag Blog

Only a few posts now show on a page, due to Blogger pagination changes beyond our control.

Please click on 'Older Posts' to continue reading The Rag Blog.