Sunday, July 26, 2009
Former Starbucks employees hold protest outside Gaslight Village location in support of barista fired for trying to start union
by Kyla King | The Grand Rapids Press
Photos by Kyla King
A protest outside the Gaslight Village Starbucks on Saturday.
EAST GRAND RAPIDS -- Former Starbucks Corp. workers who say the company fired a barista in East Grand Rapids for attempting to organize a union held an informational protest Saturday outside the coffee chain's location in Gaslight Village.
Cole DorseyErik Foreman
A group of about 15 people gathered outside the entrance at 4:30 p.m. holding signs and banners and occasionally chanting pro-union slogans. They claimed to passers-by that the Seattle-based coffee chain engages in unfair labor practices.
The group was joined by former East Grand Rapids employee, Cole Dorsey, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World union, who was fired in June 2008. Dorsey said he has been trying to get reinstated since the company settled a complaint in January with the National Labor Relations Board made on his behalf.
Cole, who is unemployed, said he still wants his job back and for other workers to have a stable work schedule and be given enough hours to qualify for health benefits.
"We should be able to have our rights not trampled on," Cole said.
Media representatives from Starbucks Corp. did not return a telephone call and email from The Press.
Erik Foreman, a union member who said he is a barista at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minn., said he came out to support Cole and Starbucks employees in Quebec who recently joined the union. Foreman said Starbucks workers should be paid a living wage and have guaranteed hours.
"A lot of (baristas) struggle to pay their bills," Foreman said. "We're not the only workers that think America needs a raise...especially because increasingly these are the only jobs out there."
E-mail Kyla King: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Wobblybarista at 12:41 PM