Organized Labor has rarely, if ever, witnessed a rank and file led national organizing drive such as the current effort of thousands of Starbucks workers, mostly youth-led, and affiliated with Workers United/SEIU and UNITE-HERE. Joint Boards.
It would be tempting to support this union drive merely because there are so many LGBTQ+ workers at Starbucks. However, this effort has now become a movement that has great significance for all organized labor and all working people. Just the same, Pride at Work cannot afford to ignore recent threats to our community from the right-wing and outright fascist groups. The recent Supreme Court overturning of Roe vs Wade, damnable as it is, also sends an unambiguous signal from the court that marriage equality and other civil rights protections are in jeopardy. Recent attacks on the LGBTQ+ community by fascist groups are also on the rise, threatening all freedom-loving workers and communities.
The popularity and success of Starbucks organizing, currently at a rate of one new store every day, is one of the clearest demonstrations of new worker power since the CIO days of the late 1930’s – and not a moment too soon. Since its peak in 1953 when one in three workers were union members, today only 7% (one in 14) of private sector workers are organized, the same rate of union organization in 1930 during the Great Depression. Today, thousands of Starbucks workers are reversing this trend and breathing new life into the labor movement as they fearlessly take on a $4 billion union busting corporation from coast to coast as well as the right to work south.
No union organizing campaign has ever had such a national scope (there have been organizing drives in at least forty-four states thus far!). This historic effort has spread from worker to worker and state to state. However, this imposes a monumental challenge to the resources and capacity of organizing staff and workers alike. Only mobilized labor and community support in hundreds of cities will be able to sustain the current drive through to final victory. This is a struggle that organized labor, all workers and especially the broad spectrum of LGBTQ+ workers cannot afford to lose. We must answer the call and mobilize.
Therefore, Pride at Work urges all our chapters and members to:
- Reach out to all local Starbucks stores and support all current organizing and contract campaigns.
- Establish an ongoing relationship of support to Starbucks workers to help raise strike funds, deploy volunteers for picket line duty and provide all needed practical support
- Reach out to all local unions, CLC’s, and state labor federations for purposes of coordination.
- Pride at Work urges all chapters to track progress in this effort and issue timely reports to be recorded and reported by the Executive Board of Pride at Work National
Submitted by Pride at Work Eastern Massachusetts
Founded in 1987 as Gay and Lesbian Labor Network (GALLAN)