NEW YORK - August 15 - The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) strongly condemns Starbucks’ retaliatory firing of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizer and NLG member Daniel Gross. Mr. Gross was fired after an investigation into his participation at a union rally in support of another IWW barista, Evan Winterscheidt. While Starbucks contends that Gross engaged in threatening conduct on the picket line, multiple eyewitnesses attest that he merely asserted solidarity with Mr. Winterscheidt to a district manager walking into the store. Mr. Gross is the fourth IWW barista terminated for union activity in less than a year. In response to the continued violation of labor rights by Starbucks, the NLG calls for a boycott of the company’s products until all fired IWW baristas are reinstated.
“The Guild is proud to stand in solidarity with the IWW baristas at Starbucks in their fight for a living wage and an independent voice on the job,” said Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild. “Starbucks should ashamed to be cashing in on a socially responsible image when the company is in reality a serial violator of labor rights.”
The NLG is appalled at Starbucks’ relentless and illegal anti-union campaign. In March 2006, the IWW Starbucks Workers Union and their lead attorney, Guild member Stuart Lichten, won a major National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case against the company, striking down several of the company’s national anti-union policies and reinstating two discharged union members. However, Starbucks has continued to break the law with impunity. The right to organize a union free of coercion is a fundamental right, enshrined in both U.S. and international law. It is imperative that Starbucks respect the right of baristas to organize and immediately call off the union-busting.
“Supporting an embattled co-worker as Daniel did is the hallmark of mutual aid and support and has been protected by law for over seventy years,” said Michael Avery, the President of the National Lawyers Guild. “The Guild looks forward to standing with Daniel and the other fired baristas as they vindicate their rights in court and on the streets.”
Despite the union-busting, the IWW baristas have pressured Starbucks to win three wage increases, a more secure schedule, and some safety improvements. The union has also taken action on the job to remedy worker grievances with the company. More information on how to support the IWW Starbucks Workers Union is available online at www.starbucksunion.org.
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is a progressive bar association of lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers. Its national office is in New York and it has chapters in nearly every state, as well as more than 100 law school chapters. The Guild has a long history of supporting the labor movement in this country and internationally.