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!
Don’t forget to ask for extra whippy cream!
Be the Bear!
Bob T Panda