starbucks.jpgThe Manhattan office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) served Starbucks a steaming hot cup of charges of anti-labor practices Friday. The move by the NLRB followed complaints by International Industrial Workers of the World organizers that the company was suppresing their union-forming efforts.

According to its official websitethe website of its service industry branch, the IWW is "The anarchosyndicalist trade union, workers' confederation and section of the Anarchist International." driven by solidarity unionism, an innovative and powerful 21st century approach to improve our life at work. The NLRB specified that eleven supervisors engaged in anti-labor practices at four Manhattan locations: 10 Union Square East, 116 East 57th Street, 200 Madison Avenue and 145 Second Avenue. From the NY Times:

Daniel Gross, one of the union’s main organizers and one of the Starbucks workers the labor board said was fired improperly, said the International Workers of the World was pushing for a living wage, asserting that the $8.75 an hour that some Manhattan coffee clerks, or baristas, earn was too little to live on.

Mr. Gross said the union wanted Starbucks to change its scheduling policy in order to guarantee a minimum of 25 or 30 hours of work a week for many of its employees.

Gross worked for Starbucks as a barista for three years before he was fired for what he claims was selective enforcement of the company's dress-code policy. And, according to the Times, if the charges against Starbucks are validated by an administrative law judge, the company may have to reinstate the two fired employees and post signs for employees in its locations stating that anti-union practices are illegal and that the company did not prohibit them.

That may prove more of a moral than substantive victory to the coffee-oriented labor movement. In an excerpt from "Grande Expectations: A Year in the Life of Starbucks' Stock," by Karen Blumenthal that was published in today's Wall Street Journal (available online only to subscribers), the Seattle chain has approximately 13,000 stores world-wide and plans on opening another 10,000 over just the next four years. In other words, expect a Starbucks store to be opening inside your apartment sometime between now and 2011.

And in February, Reverend Billy was arrested outside the Astor Place Starbucks. He was protesting the corporation's refusal to let Ethiopia trademark their coffee.

(Red Hook's Starbucks Future)