Minneapolis, MN- Baristas at a Starbucks coffee shop in Minneapolis walked off the floor Wednesday morning to present a petition to management, signed by more than 500 concerned customers and community members, demanding Starbucks hire a security guard to ensure the safety of its patrons and partners. Today's action marks the expansion of activity by the IWW Starbucks Workers Union to a second store in the Twin Cities after baristas at the Mall of the America started taking action for improved working conditions over the summer.

Store partners circulated an internal petition, compiling signatures from most of the store's employees, requesting a meeting to discuss the security situation. After receiving no productive response from either the store or district manager, the employees turned to the customers to prove their point.

"We hoped management would recognize the need to discuss these concerns with us, but when they refused to even hold a meeting, we knew more action was needed," said Aaron Kocher, a current store employee. "We can't work when we are constantly being harassed, threatened, and intimidated, or trying to protect our customers from the same mistreatment," he said.

Nancy Athanasselis, a regular customer known to everyone at the store,
was gratified to see someone finally doing something about the problem.

"The baristas are very busy running the store. It shouldn't be up to
them to take care of security problems, but that is what ends up
happening. If Starbucks is not going to look at the human aspect, they
should at least look at how much time they spend dealing with security,"
she said.

Since the beginning of 2008, there have been more than 500 police
reports filed for the immediate area surrounding Starbucks. On August
3, the McDonald's restaurant located two blocks south of Starbucks was
held up at gun point. On November 3, the Money Xchange less than one block from Starbucks was robbed at knife-point at 8:30 in the morning.

Christa worked for Starbucks for three years, but she was forced to
choose between self-preservation and her position: "I loved the people I
worked with, but there were problems. I can't tell you how many times
we had to clean up feces, urine, blood, or vomit from customers who came in drunk. One time a guy didn't want to pay an extra four cents for his coffee. He started screaming at me. He came back later with a friend and started photographing me, saying, 'That's the one. I'm going to kill her.' I'm not going to risk my life for $8.50 an hour."

The customers and baristas at the Franklin and Nicollet Starbucks create
a dynamic, diverse community in a changing neighborhood. The security conditions at Franklin and Nicollet have made performing the essential job duties nearly impossible. It is unconscionable for Starbucks to continue endangering their lives.

In solidarity with the workers of all Starbucks locations, the Starbucks
Workers Union and Industrial Workers of the World will continue to
support Starbucks employees everywhere in their efforts to create a
positive, respectful work environment. The union will take action on "Black Friday," November 28, 2008, the busiest shopping day of the year, to call attention to one of the workers' core demands, a cost of living pay increase for all Starbucks baristas.

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is a grassroots organization of over 200 current and former employees of the world's largest coffee chain united for secure hours and a living wage. The union has members throughout the United States fighting for systemic change in the company and remedying individual grievances with management. The SWU has been especially active in New York City, Chicago, Grand Rapids, and the Twin Cities.


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 http://www.starbucksunion.org/node/2060