October 27, 2008

New Orleans, LA- Starbucks Coffee Co.'s first national conference for managers held outside of Seattle and the first since the return of Howard Schultz as CEO, was rocked by a determined pro-worker demonstration here yesterday. In the midst of a worsening economic crisis, New Orleans residents rose up to demand respect for the work of Starbucks baristas and coffee farmers who are bearing the brunt of the downturn while company executives continue to rake in millions of dollars.

"We sent a strong message to Starbucks that New Orleans residents are thirsty for workers' human rights all across the country," said Travis Richey, a participant in the spirited demonstration. "Howard Schultz must face the fact that workers have the right to join the IWW Starbucks Workers Union as the company seeks to make baristas' jobs even more precarious."

The protest began at the Sheraton Hotel where demonstrators confronted arriving buses of Starbucks managers and handed out pro-worker flyers to passersby. Behind a banner reading, "Starbucks Stop Your Union Busting Now", the group then marched to the Morial Convention Center, the site of the Starbucks Leadership Conference, and chanted in front of a Starbucks store across the street. At the end of the action, police unlawfully arrested one protester for allegedly "interfering" with officers who were detaining a fellow demonstrator without cause.

"The union couldn't be more honored that supporters in New Orleans - a city which has been preyed on so egregiously by big business and their cronies in government - showed such powerful solidarity with our struggle," said Daniel Gross, an organizer with the IWW Starbucks Workers Union. "As the corporate-sinking of the economy continues, an aggressive movement highlighting and challenging the dominance of large corporations in our economic, social, and political life is all but assured."

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is an organization of over 200 baristas, bussers, and shift supervisors united for secure work hours, a living wage, and respect on the job. Through direct action, litigation, and public education, the union has won important gains in wages and working conditions for Starbucks employees and remedied many serious grievances with management. The Starbucks Workers Union is a campaign of the Industrial Workers of the World, a union which is controlled and operated by its members.