Today, the Grand Rapids Starbucks Workers Union announced that it has won a major legal victory.
In a press statement (reprinted below), the Union announced that the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found that Starbucks unlawfully terminated a union barista in retaliation for filing a safety complaint:
Coffee Giant Must Reinstate Barista With Backpay
Grand Rapids, MI (12/08/2008) – The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found after trial that Starbucks unlawfully terminated a barista here in retaliation for filing a safety complaint. The barista, a member of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union, was retaliated against after complaining about the effects of a perennially leaking roof. The MIOSHA determination comes less than a month before embattled Starbucks faces a trial in Grand Rapids at the National Labor Relations Board over anti-union retaliation.
“Two federal agencies are holding Starbucks accountable in Grand Rapids for wantonly trampling employee rights. Without the IWW Starbucks Workers Union they may have gotten away with it,” said Cole Dorsey, the fired barista and union member.
The Michigan litigation comes on the heels of a recent settlement Starbucks signed with the NLRB in Minnesota. In that instance they re-instated a barista who was wrongfully terminated for union activity and agreed to desist illegal anti-union activity. The company and union are awaiting a judge’s decision in New York after a 2007 trial on over 30 counts of unlawful union-busting.
The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is a grassroots organization of over 200 current and former employees at the world’s largest coffee chain united for secure work hours and a living wage. The union has members throughout the United States fighting for systemic change at the company and remedying individual grievances with management. The SWU has been especially active in New York City, Chicago, the Twin Cities, and Grand Rapids.
Union baristas, bussers, and shift supervisors have fought successfully toward improved scheduling and staffing levels, increased wages, and workplace safety. Workers who join the union have immediate access to co-workers and members of the community who will struggle with them for a better life on the job.