Workers are making history in every industry.
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Workers at a Buffalo Starbucks are feeling energized and elated — and no, it’s not a caffeine buzz.
This month, the New York store is set to become the only unionized Starbucks in the United States. This extraordinary achievement came after months of relentless and at times grotesque union-busting efforts by the coffee giant, which included everything from flooding stores with managers to intimidate employees, to former CEO Howard Schultz making an incredibly weird speech that equated the benevolence of Starbucks with prisoners in a concentration camp.
While employees received support from public figures like Bernie Sanders, they also had to confront a barrage of anti-union messaging and threats from their employer. Their willingness to stand and fight took tremendous courage. We applaud their victory, and we take heart in the knowledge that progress is contagious. Already, other Starbucks stores around the country are moving to unionize. We welcome this cascade of actions that will help employees achieve real power in the workplace. And if a Starbucks boycott is ever called for, we’ll be readying our French presses in solidarity.
World of Work 🌍
USA: Striking Kellogg workers voted on a tentative contract over the weekend, and results should come in by Tuesday. The new five-year agreement includes cost-of-living adjustments and a $1.10-per-hour raise for all employees. Bernie Sanders held a rally on Saturday in solidarity with the workers, who have also received support from President Biden after Kellogg’s management announced that it might permanently replace the striking workers. Biden called the move “an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods.”
NY: In the largest strike in the country, three thousand graduate student workers at Columbia are entering their eighth week on strike. In a similar move to Kellogg, the university announced that it might permanently replace the striking workers if a deal couldn’t be reached by December 10. The workers refused to back down, with 98% of those in favor of continuing to strike saying that threats from the university have goaded them to fight on.
NY: After going on strike during the busiest shopping period of the year, unionized employees at Wirecutter, the product review site owned by the New York Times, have won a new contract. Way to use the power of Black Friday for good, Wirecutter! The contract includes average wage increases of about $5,000, along with three-percent raises on average for each year of the deal, which runs through February 2024.
KY & IL: Eight workers at a Kentucky candle factory and six workers at an Illinois Amazon warehouse were killed in the tornado that rampaged through the Midwest last week. Workers in these locations were allegedly told not to leave by their bosses, despite the threat posed by the coming storm. In a moving op-ed, writer Hamilton Nolan wonders if a union might have saved them.