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What do Starbucks and Wal-Mart have in common?

What do Starbucks and Wal-Mart have in common?

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Disclaimer - The opinions of the author do not necessarily match those of the IWW. This article is reposted in accordance to Fair Use guidelines.


Originally published Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM
Starbucks settles sixth labor dispute in three years - Starbucks settles an anti-union charge without admitting wrongdoing or facing a financial penalty.

By Melissa Allison - Seattle Times business reporter

Starbucks signed a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last week agreeing to let Minneapolis-area employees post union materials in their break areas and discuss union issues while on the job, as long as it doesn't interfere with their performance.

The settlement does not include financial payment, and Starbucks admits to no wrongdoing.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) initiated the complaints that led to the settlement and, according to a news release, considers it a victory.

It's Starbucks' sixth labor settlement in three years and its second in Minneapolis. In December, the Seattle coffee chain lost a battle in administrative-law court when a judge determined Starbucks had unfairly imposed work rules on employees who supported the IWW.

The company is appealing the court's decision and has not acknowledged wrongdoing in any of the settlements.

Starbucks said in a statement that since January, 15 unfair-labor-practice charges filed by a "small group of individuals" have been dismissed by the NLRB or withdrawn.

"Starbucks chose to settle the one remaining charge," the statement said. The company called the settlement "the latest in the IWW's 'kitchen sink' approach to criticizing all things Starbucks. ... [W]e strongly believe we would have prevailed had the one remaining case gone to trial, but the time and expense required to do so was not justifiable."

Starbucks' labor record is the subject of a new online film by Brave New Films, which is known for viral video campaigns against U.S. Sen. John McCain, Wal-Mart and others. The film has been viewed more than 60,000 times on YouTube.

According to a site that supports the film, a form letter has been sent by 14,845 people to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz decrying Starbucks' union stance - including its recent opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com