Tag Archives: Starbucks

Day 11 ~ 31 Days of Pandas

Seasonal Drinks

Those who know some of my history know that in the mid to late 1980’s I worked for Starbucks Coffee, when it it was just a local Seattle coffee emporium, before some guy named Howard got his hands on it and um…made it what it is today. (You can interpret that any way you’d like).

I’ve been amused/annoyed/encouraged to read of the unionizing efforts of some of the retail Starbucks stores in the Buffalo NY area. Encouraged, because I think that workers demanding a fair workplace with livable wages is a good thing and I’m glad to know that these workers are standing up for their rights.

Amused, because I know it is probably driving Howard batshit to have workers puncturing his carefully crafted image of himself as the benevolent corporate overlord, and (failed) presidential candidate.

And annoyed, because the organizers and the reporters keep referring to this as the first attempt at unionization at Starbucks.


Somewhere around 1986 or ’87, the actual first union at Starbucks organized and was formed, starting at the roasting plant and then including the Seattle stores. It was not easy. We had great assistance from UFCW local 1001 in the persons of Jerry Patterson, Janet Boyd, Dave Schmidt, and Pam Blauman. I still consider them friends today. (Dave died this year from cancer and the world is a poorer place without him) They helped us navigate the treacherous waters that Starbucks flung in our path.

We had just (finally) negotiated our first contract when Howard bought out the company. He immediately dragged us back to the bargaining table to negotiate a new contract, despite telling us he wouldn’t do that, before the sale of the company. It got so nasty, that I left a few months later, as soon as the new contract was done. It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, so, um…thanks?

Note: the union only lasted a few years at the roasting plant, and less at the stores, but we were the first union there. Just so ya know!

Anyway, my experience there has inspired several ‘toons, including this one!

whipped cream
Can I have EXTRA extra whipped cream?

Don’t forget to ask for extra whippy cream!

Be the Bear!
Bob T Panda


As a recovering former employee of the largest coffee chain in the galaxy, it was with great amusement that I read of their campaign to “instigate meaningful dialog about racism.” Not that this country doesn’t need some meaningful dialog on this issue, but the vehicle chosen by this particular industry was, at best, not well considered, and at worst….well, just saying….

As someone who worked for many years behind the counters of food and coffee establishments, I can say with a good amount of certainty, that the last thing someone who is standing in line waiting for their coffee in the morning is meaningful dialog beyond “large, leave room for cream, make that a double.” It’s bad enough to be behind the person who orders a “half caff, skim almond milk, extra foam, sprinkle of yak butter, cinnamon, caramel pandachino” let alone have to wait for them to have meaningful dialog about anything.

And I can pretty much guarantee that the barista, gazing at the line of 20+ people who have not had their coffee yet, does not want any more meaningful dialog beyond, “will that be cash, charge, or your first born?”

So, really, if you want to do something meaningful to eliminate racism, sexism, or intolerance of any kind, wouldn’t it be more meaningful to um…hire more people of color, or diverse life style choices in upper management level positions, for example? What do ya say, Howard?

Please note: we just read of Starbuck’s pledge to support Gay Marriage, which we applaud, and in the spirit of this announcement, we cordially invite anyone who really hates this idea to quit reading The Panda Chronicles. Pandas are in favor of tolerance, you know.

Meanwhile, we invite you to take part in our #WeREndangered campaign, and engage in our own brand of meaningful dialog*

*Making fun of pandas

This was way too much fun. :o)

This was way too much fun. :o)

Can I have my coffee now?

Be the Bear!
Bob T. Panda