Digest: Friday, March 11, 2022

Seven Portland-area Starbucks are unionizing

Starbucks locations all over the U.S. are unionizing, including multiple locations here in Portland and even more throughout Oregon. At the time of writing, the following Starbucks locations have filed paper work with the National Labor Relations Board:

Local organizers have a list of concerns that includes a lack of COVID-19 safety measures, as well routine understaffing and labor cuts. In an interview with Eater PDX, B Morris-Brand, a shift supervisor at the SE Powell, described coworkers as “overworked, overtired, and exhausted, mentally, emotionally, and physically.” Starbucks reported record earnings of $8.1 billion in 2021, 19% more than in 2020. The company increased prices in 2021 and plans to raise them again in 2022.

Starbucks is known for offering good benefits to employees, but their wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living. Those benefits are also not available to all employees — one important exclusion is employees under the age of 18, who aren’t eligible for health insurance, retirement accounts, stock equity programs, and other benefits. While Starbucks publishes demographic breakdowns of their employees by gender and race, the company reportedly doesn’t track age breakdowns. The company hires employees as young as 14 years old in many states.

The company can choose to agree to union elections at any time, but are choosing to engage in union-busting activities yet. They’ve forced employees to attend anti-union meetingsfired multiple organizers, temporarily closed stores attempting to unionize, asked the NLRB to cancel and delay union votes. Starbucks is even using some of these strategies at locations without active organizing efforts.

Several Starbucks locations that requested union elections through the NLRB in December 2021 have completed the election process in the last two weeks. We can likely expect election results at the first Oregon locations to unionize around May, if the NLRB sticks to a similar timeline.

What can you do to support union organizers at local Starbucks?

  • If you spend money at a Starbucks cafe, try to do so at a location that is unionizing. There’s currently no call for a boycott at Oregon locations. Get one of those customer surveys with your purchase? Fill it out and mention you chose the location because it’s unionizing.
  • Tip well. The more funds employees have access to, the longer they can hold out against corporate pressure.
  • Let workers know you support their unionizing efforts. Leaving them positive reviews and speaking with employees are all ways to making organizing a little easier. You can even set your name as “union strong” or “solidarity” when ordering.
  • Keep an eye out for crowdfunding campaigns for organizers who are fired. Donating and sharing these campaigns not only helps those individuals directly, but also reminds all Starbucks employees that they have community support.
  • Pay attention to Starbucks job opportunities in the area. One key corporate strategy to defeat unionization attempts is to hire a bunch of new employees who aren’t committed to organizing.
  • Follow both the local and national organizing group on social media.

Lastly, if you work at a local Starbucks, there’s a short guide for organizing your coworkers.

Minimal accountability for Portland police officers continues

This week, the Portland Police Bureau released discipline records for two police officers who leaked information that PPB was investigating City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in connection with a hit-and-run crash. Officer Kerri Ottoman received a single day suspension without pay. While Ottoman’s current salary is unavailable, she received a salary of $119,979 in 2020. Ottoman’s pay for a single day is likely around is likely between $300 and $500. Officer Ken Le received a letter of reprimand. Le has also been involved in multiple other concerning situations, including accusations violating arrestees’ civil rights and accusations of falsifying police reports in connection with protests.

A third officer, Brian Hunzeker, was fired earlier this month, against the advice of both Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell and the Portland Police Association.

During the internal affairs investigation conducted by PPB, which took roughly a year, other PPB employees were also implicated. Seven employees accessed information about the case without a clear legitimate purpose. Two employees who are also PPA members shared information about the case in violation of bureau policy.

By Thursday Bram

Thursday Bram founded PDX.Vote after making numerous zines, newsletters, and other media about politics in Portland, Oregon. Thursday has also written for publications ranging from Autostraddle.com to Entrepreneur Magazine. You can find more of Thursday's work at ThursdayBram.com.