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Nebraska Starbucks Workers Union demands reinstatement of unjustly terminated barista and organizer Tyler Swain

The IWW Nebraska General Membership Branch (GMB) files Unfair Labor Practice charging Starbucks Coffee Company with violating Labor Law.

Starbucks Workers Union (Industrial Workers of the World) contact: Samantha Cole (402)669-8479

Omaha- The Starbucks Workers Union is demanding the reinstatement of former employee and union member Tyler Swain after being unjustly terminated.

On Thursday December 30, 2010 Tyler Swain was terminated from his position as a shift supervisor by the downtown Starbucks store manager Scott Creed for ‘insubordination’.

Co-worker and union member Samantha Cole argues otherwise and says that the Starbucks Coffee Company has had a bulls-eye on Swain since they formed the Nebraska Starbucks Workers Union in August. Cole stated, “Tyler has always been a model employee and takes great pride in his job and his relationships he’s developed with our regular customers. Starbucks has been desperately trying to find a reason to get rid of Tyler since we went public with our union and started organizing our district.” She added that, “Customers have noticed and asked where he is. When I tell them that he was terminated they are surprised and say that he is always so friendly and never would have guessed he would be fired for being a bad employee. However, one customer who comes in on a regular basis and had made negative remarks to us when we went public with our union said ‘that’s what he gets for trying to start a union’”.

The Nebraska Starbucks Workers Union went public with their union and organizing drive on August 6th, 2010 by walking off the job and presenting then District Manager Jennifer Rojas with a list of demands which included increasing wages above poverty rates, an inclement weather plan for the district, consistent scheduling and fully stocked First Aid kit in the store as per OSHA regulations among other things.

Union member Sasha McCoy says that Starbucks has been focused on causing discontent among the workers at 15th and Douglas Starbucks by manufacturing lies about Swain. “Shortly after we presented Jenny with our list of demands and went public with our desire to organize a union, Starbucks has been actively trying to accuse Tyler of a number of unethical charges. The Human Resources Department was even accusing Tyler of sexual harrasment when there was nothing like that going on. These charges were absolutely absurd. They were trying to take the focus off of our demands and desire to organize a union and onto make believe charges against Tyler,” said McCoy.

On Thursday the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Nebraska General Membership Branch (GMB) organized a nation wide call in of support for Tyler Swain by asking supporters to demand that Scott Creed reinstate Swain immediately.

The Union followed up on Friday, December 31 by filing several Unfair Labor Practice charges against Starbucks Coffee Company, and store manager Scott Creed.

Among these charges are the company’s refusal to allow workers to have a coworker witness present during conversations with management(NLRB v. Weingarten), retaliating against union members, in particular fellow worker Swain, with direct corrective actions for his involvement in organizing (Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White) and engaging in other protected activities under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), restricting the access of union members to their store and disallowing union members from working shifts at other stores.

As these charges are investigated the Starbucks Workers Union plan to continue organizing and informing their co-workers and the community of their demands. Sasha McCoy relayed, “I’m not going to allow Starbucks to intimidate me from organizing and putting pressure for better wages, better benefits, and respect. We have a legally protected right to organize and we are not going to sit by and let Starbucks get away with this.”

Although The Starbucks Workers Union has no recogized collective bargaining agreement with Starbucks Corporation, that has not stopped the SWU from organizing and making the job better for all workers. The SWU practices a form of unionism they call ‘solidarity unionism’ where they put pressure on their employer without a majority of workers. Through direct action on the shop floor, they have been successful in achieving a great number of improvements on the job, including wage increases for baristas in Chicago and New York City, consistent scheduling for employees where there is a union presence, and paid time and a half for Starbucks workers across the entire country on Martin Luther King Day.

The Starbucks Workers Union, open to employees at the company nationwide, is affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World labor union; the IWW is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people.