This fund will let people donate to help support unionizing Starbucks workers

 
July 25, 2022
 
This fund will let people donate to help support unionizing Starbucks workers

As Starbucks workers continue to unionize—voting for a union in 200 stores across the country—some claim they’ve faced retaliation, from harassment to reduced hours and firings to entire stores being shuttered. Multiple GoFundMes have sprung up to support unionizing workers; but now, Starbucks Workers United and The Solidarity Fund by Coworker—a mutual aid tool that supports workers engaging in organizing or activism in the tech industry—have partnered to launch an official Starbucks Workers Fund.

 

The Starbucks Workers Fund, which can accept donations from anyone, will act as a mutual aid fund to support unionizing Starbucks workers. An independent worker committee, made up of Starbucks workers, will set criteria for how the funds are used. It will start disbursing money in the fall.

Though that committee will establish guidelines for the fund, Casey Moore, a Starbucks barista in Buffalo who is involved with Starbucks Workers United, says that the general idea of the fund “is that it will go to baristas who maybe their hours have been cut and they need to afford rent and groceries, or they’ve been fired and they need support. . . . It’s just to try to help people continue to do the work that they’re doing in their stores, and financially support that.”

Starbucks Workers United previously connected with Coworker when organizing baristas created a petition through the site calling on Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to sign its Fair Election Principles. Starbucks announced in early July that it would close 16 stores—some of which recently unionized—in order to “address safety issues,” prompting the union to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), arguing that the closures were retaliation. The union also claims that there have been more than 50 firings across the country related to unionizing activity, with Moore caveating that “those are just the ones we know of, in stores that have active, public organizing campaigns.” The company has maintained that its actions, including firing workers and shuttering multiple stores, were not related to union activism. (In June, however, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told a New York Times reporter that he could not see the company embracing the union.)

 

 

The Starbucks Workers Fund is separate from the $1 million strike fund run by Workers United. That fund, Moore explains, can only receive donations from other unions, not from the general public, and is restricted specifically to workers who are going on strike. The fund in partnership with The Solidarity Fund by Coworker, in contrast, is more broad. “I can’t say how many people have launched GoFundMes just saying, ‘Starbucks has cut my hours,’ ‘they’re trying to force us out,’ ‘I want to keep working at Starbucks but I can’t even afford to do so right now, because they’re just trying to get us to quit,’” Moore says.

The Buffalo branch of the NLRB in June sought a nationwide cease and desist order against Starbucks, and also reinstatement for seven workers in Buffalo who the NLRB says were “unlawfully fired for exercising their right to form a union.” The NLRB has issued more than 10 official complaints against the coffee company across the country for unfair labor practices; multiple are now in court, including a trial in Buffalo in which the company is accused of more than 200 labor law violations.

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