A new article titled “Union-Made Lattes” in the progressive magazine In These Times mentions Grand Rapids Starbucks Union organizer Cole Dorsey and the ongoing NLRB case against Starbucks in Grand Rapids. The article examines the formation of the Union and allegations of union busting by Starbucks.
An excerpt from the article discussing Dorsey and organizing in Grand Rapids:
More recently, in Grand Rapids, Mich., the NLRB filed a complaint against Starbucks, charging that the company illegally fired barista Cole Dorsey for union activity.
According to Dorsey, the SWU began organizing in Grand Rapids in 2006. But baristas who were interested in joining the union became concerned that repercussions might be taken against them for organizing publicly.
“We were attempting to organize a union election, a tactic we thought could be effective here in Michigan, but we believe management found out,” says Dorsey.
Those baristas collectively decided that Dorsey — at least initially — should be the union’s public face while others remained underground.
Dorsey was fired on June 6 during the union election campaign. Starbucks’ Darrow says Dorsey — who had worked at Starbucks for two years and had won employee awards — was fired for being tardy after receiving a final warning. As in other cases, Starbucks denies allegations of union-busting activity.
“The backbone of my case is that I was fired for less than what other employees have done,” Dorsey says.
In a response to Dorsey’s NLRB complaint, Starbucks’ attorneys reiterated the official reason he was fired, and added that he was a “salt,” suggesting that Dorsey had no interest in working at Starbucks and was there only to organize.
“I guess it is true in a sense because I am organizing people, but what they fail to understand is that I also depend on the income from my job, and they took that away from me,” Dorsey says. “We never wanted this to be a contentious issue. We want a union so that we can improve workplace conditions. Starbucks has made the situation contentious.”
Read “Union-Made Lattes.”