Pretending to Be Popular


Via Businesspundit, we find unions using city governments as PR outlets:

Cambridge, MA- The City Council of Cambridge Massachusetts late yesterday became the first local government in the nation to condemn Starbucks' relentless anti-union campaign and support the Industrial Workers of the World organizing drive at Starbucks. Members of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union hope the resolution will serve as a model for other city councils, religious organizations, and labor unions around the world.

That resolution deserves scrutiny, because the language and evidence it uses to justify government policy doesn't get any more intentionally vague:

"National attention has been increasing on the efforts of Starbucks workers".

Really? This is the first mainstream "national attention" I've heard of, if you don't count Liza Featherstone at The Nation. (Look at the last comment -- "Holy Crap! BEN & JERRY'S and WHOLE FOODS aren't "pure" enough for her?!??!?!")

City council members should have better things to do than "go on record supporting the cause of the Starbuck’s workers" -- especially when the cited problems weren't even in their city, and no evidence is presented about the number or share of Starbucks workers who want unionization.

This policy resolution has little to do with the feasibility of unionization, or demand for it by actual employees, or the desirability of it from a city perspective; it's all about grabbing attention, pretending to be popular in the hopes of actually becoming popular.


Any unionization efforts are essentially a negotiation between private parties. Generally, there are three: The company, the employee base, and those who represent the union. The negotiation is really no different than the negotiation between Xerox and Konica to get the photocopier supply business at Starbucks. So the city is formally taking sides in such a private negotiation, why?

Starbucks being targetted of course because they are known for brutal exploitation of their workers...

More than the fact that unions are trying to organize Starbucks, I was amazed to see which union it is. The "Wobblies" of infamous union lore. As far as I know, the only workplace they have organized in the past 75 years is a book store/cooperative in Seattle (or Oregon or some such place)

I would also point out that the Wobs are not a union in any sense of the word. They are anarchist/socialists (how's that for an oxymoron?) dedicated to the overthrow of the "state" including regular unions. See their site at

If I were a union, I would love to organize Starbucks and like workplaces. Turnover is so high that no employee will ever be around long enough to get involved in the union. This will give the organizers/"leaders" more or less a blank check


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This page contains a single entry by Kevin published on October 18, 2006 10:44 AM.

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