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Article

19 Oct 2023

Author:
Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz

Starbucks sues union over its solidarity with Palestine, union alleges it's an anti-union ploy; Incl. Co. comment

Starbucks

"Starbucks is trying to distance itself from union workers who have taken a pro-Palestinian stance"

The Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) union’s pro-Palestinian social media posts are hurting the coffee chain in more ways than one, the company alleges. But the union says that’s just an excuse for Starbucks to hit back at organized labor.

On Oct. 9, the union posted a since-deleted image of a bulldozer tearing down a part of the Israel and Gaza border with the text “Solidarity with Palestine,” while union chapters in Iowa, Chicago, and Boston promoted rallies in support of Palestinians...

Starbucks clarified its stance and sent the union a cease-and-desist letter to stop using the company’s name and images that resemble its logo. When that yielded no response, Starbucks resorted to filing a lawsuit in Iowa...

The SBWU hit back with its own complaint against Starbucks, filed the same day in federal court in Pennsylvania, saying no one was confusing the company with the union...

It’s asking the court to rule that it can continue to use the Starbucks name—which it has been using since August 2021—and a tweaked version of the company’s green circular logo. That’s the norm when you consider the likes of the logos for the Amazon Labor Union and National Football League Players Association.

Workers see the litigation as an anti-union ploy.

SBWU on Oct. 17: “Starbucks is seeking to exploit the ongoing tragedy in the Middle East to bolster the company’s anti-union campaign.”

Starbucks on Oct. 18: “Such reckless and reprehensible behavior must be addressed through the lens of our partners’ safety and public clarity of Starbucks official position, which condemns the violence in the region. This position is apart from our continued commitment to good faith bargaining that we have insisted through hundreds of requests and unfair labor practice filings.”

A shadow of doubt has likely been cast on Starbucks’ intent because of its hostility in the past. The coffee chain isn’t giving unions the representation they crave. Politicians have called the business out and former CEO Howard Schulz participated in a Senate hearing on the matter.

Often it actively campaigns against labor force organization...

Part of the following timelines

USA: Starbucks accused of ‘anti-union’ campaign following union drive across stores; incl. company comments

Israel/OPT: Ongoing attacks on Gaza sees escalating calls for consumers to boycott companies linked to Israel