Tom Keough : The Unionization of Starbucks and the Rape of Kati Moore

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California teen girl sues Starbucks over sexual abuse

Seattle-based Starbucks is feeling the heat over an ex-worker’s accusations of sex abuse on the job. And an ABC News investigation has uncovered evidence that it’s part of a nationwide trend of young women being taken advantage of by older managers.

Beyond its strong coffee and steamed milk, Starbucks presents itself as a trusted corporate citizen. “It’s not the bricks and mortar that make Starbucks, it’s the human relations of our people and the experience,” says Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

That family feeling is one of the reasons Katie Moore [in other sources her name is spelled “Kati”] says she applied to work at Starbucks when she turned 16… But within months, she says, her job as a barista at a Starbucks store in an Orange County, Calif., shopping center turned into something quite different…

In the case of Katie Moore at Starbucks, the supervisor, Tim Horton, pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor and spent four months in prison. But Katie Moore’s mother says Starbucks and places with high school employees need to do more. “You know, they have a responsibility to these teenagers,” says Joanna Moore…

Moore is now suing Starbucks, alleging [the] 24-year old supervisor essentially turned her into his sex toy, in a court case that has turned ugly as she claims Starbucks did little to protect her from him, and Starbucks claims it’s her own fault…

seattle pi / January 24, 2010

Organizing the baristas:
The IWW and the Starbucks Workers Union

By Tom Keough / The Rag Blog / March 16, 2010

I do cartoons for the Starbucks workers who are trying to unionize and get better working conditions. The Kati Moore rape case exemplifies the company’s total lack of care for an employee and automatic support for anything a manager does.

When I first heard that the majority at a New York City Starbucks announced that they wanted a union contract I was amazed. When I was growing up, almost everyone I knew had either worked at McDonalds at some time or had family working there. My father had tried organizing McDonalds workers in Connecticut when he worked there. The biggest problem seemed to be that no union wanted fast food workers.

I’ll never forget seeing the mothers of two of my friends, almost in tears, talking about how unfair it was that the men at Pratt and Whitney or Colts could have unions, but not them. McDonalds work is hot, greasy, hard, fast, exhausting work.

So I try to help the Starbucks Workers Union, which was organized by the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) in the U.S. and Canada. There is a union organizing campaign well under way in Chile and efforts have started in Europe. In New Zealand all the fast food chain restaurants are owned by one man and the employees are all union.

The Starbucks workers face a number of unique problems. The company has a nationwide policy of no full time employment for non-management workers. This way they avoid having to pay benefits. Their U.S. employees also have no set schedules. A lawyer for Starbucks once said that this is to prevent part-time staffers from getting second jobs. If you work there you won’t know the next week’s schedule until two or three days before the week starts.

Starbucks boasts that they offer health insurance for their employees but they make it almost impossible to get or to keep. To have the option of buying this insurance you need to work an average of 20 hours per week for the three-month quarter. The employees have no say in how many hours they work. Some weeks they may work 45 hours and the next week only seven. So the health insurance is really only a public relations stunt to impress customers.

In the shops where the baristas have announced their desire to unionize, Starbucks has refused to recognize the union. BUT in those shops, improvements have suddenly occurred. The first shop to go union soon became the first Starbucks to give all employees a December holiday cash bonus. In other locations safety and other improvements were made. In the U.S. the union has taken the company to court and won every time, despite the company’s highly paid lawyers.

  • Go here to learn more about the IWW Starbucks Workers Union.
  • Go here to read the Starbucks Union’s Statement of Solidarity with barista Kati Moore who was sexually assaulted by her supervisor.

Cartoons by Tom Keough / The Rag Blog.

The Rag Blog

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10 Responses to Tom Keough : The Unionization of Starbucks and the Rape of Kati Moore

  1. Anonymous says:

    It likes this is just gonna go back to dealing with these issues on a personal basis.

  2. I do hope the IWW succeeds in imposing its collective bargaining on Starbucks. Once Starbucks is unionized, I would quickly invest in other specialty coffee companies. Starbucks prices would go up while quality of service would go down. (see UAW and Detroit car companies). Starbucks would be forced to close stores and layoff their overpaid workers. Their corporate valuation (and stock price) would plummet and my investment would go up in response. Go IWW!

    Civil lawsuits are a much more effective way to change corporate behavior than unions would be. A couple of multi million dollar suit settlements would have the HR department doing lots of sexual harassment training. Problem solved.

  3. Richard says:

    DHS,
    Spoken like a true Capitalist bossman. Thanks for being a living example of what capitalism is all about. Profit over the lives of workers, and thanks for supporting the rape of 16 year old girls. IWW is what organized anarchy is all about. I am proud of my card issued in 1969 in Chicago and all the solid sisters and brothers that I meet around the world.

    Richard
    Walking delegate
    IWW Branch 450

  4. Richard, you were doing so good in your comment until you got to that point about supporting the rape of the girl. I didn’t write a single word about the girl, just useless unions. Typical liberal bait and switch tactic though. Besides, someone belonging to an organization with the history of violence of the IWW should be embarrassed to cast aspersions at others for their violent crimes.

    But since you brought it up, here is your lesson for the day. Pay careful attention:

    An employee of the company committed a crime. He was tried and convicted. I am pretty sure the company will have to pay a monetary price in civil court for failing to keep their workplace safe. That should help prevent such a failure from occuring again.

    Katie Moore’s mother says Starbucks and places with high school employees need to do more. “You know, they have a responsibility to these teenagers,” says Joanna Moore

    Indeed they do Joanna. It is ironic that Joanna’s 16 year old daughter was out banging an older guy to the point that Joanna says she was a “sex toy” and Joanna either didn’t care, or didn’t know. So how can Joanna, who spends hours a day with the victim, fail to protect her own daughter, and then insist that some distant Starbucks executive has a responsibility to do better?

    Starbucks failed and they are paying a price. The abuser is paying in jail. I suggest that Joanna Moore failed in her primary responsibility as a parent (or just didn’t give a damn until she thought of a lawsuit), so perhaps she should pay? Maybe having the child removed and placing her in a safe home environment would be in order?

    Thats more helpful ideas than you provided Richard.

  5. Richard says:

    DHS, disculpa mi. I was wrong to include that gratutious remark and stand chargrined.

    Re: IWW violence, worked both ways. Not only did IWW support it’s own strikes, they were experts at striking and would go to the sight of other unions strikes and organize the logistics for people who were miners, mill workers, shipyard workers who had no experience in organization. A good case in point is the Seattle General Strike of 1919, the only General strike in U.S. history. Because they could organize food banks, Co-operative child care, raise funds and in general support strikers they were hated and hunted by the bosses, frequently with a price on their heads. Sometimes they were railroaded in to prison or to the gallows as in the case of Joe Hill. They were instrumental in the 50 year struggle for the 8 hour day. The laws against sindicalism were passed against the Wobs specifically…(it forbids OneBigUnion.)

  6. Richard,

    Thanks for your apology. Also, I didnt realize that the IWW was instrumental in bringing about the 8 hour work day. I must admit thats a good thing. OK i give the IWW kudos for that.

    Its hard to reconcile my personal experience with unions, which is corruption and graft, with the beneficial reforms that the union movement brought about in the last century.

  7. Richard says:

    DHS,
    You are right. Starbucks did not provide a safe work space. That’s why we have Union’s, they address two issues. Wages and hours, and Health and Safety, if we could trust the bosses to pay for the work we do and provide for our health issues, we wouldn’t need Unions. However the bosses and the workers have nothing in common.
    2. It was not Joanna’s mothers fault that a pervert raped her daughter.
    2a. Kati was not raped by some distant executive but by her direct boss. However the distant executive who is charged with hiring, training and providing a company culture that discourages such crimes failed in his job, I wonder how much he makes to do as good a job as he expected Kati to do.
    Unions are responsible for the health and safety of their members and they provide a grievance procedure wherein deviations from the contractual agreement can be brought to light and addresed. If Kati had a contract with Starbucks and a shop steward and a BA to speak up for her she would have fared better.
    I worked on ticket for Iron and Steel Workers, was a member of a Textile workers union and two different printers unions (one an IWW union) and I worked in Dallas, Texas for a non-union Corporation that printed for one of the biggest buyers of printed material in the world, Hallmark Cards, there we worked 12 hours, six days for just over half of what I made in Boston in a union shop.
    The worst union job is twice as good as the best non-union job, for the worker. The boss gets a trained worker and a steady supply of labor.

  8. Richard says:

    If I may, one other thought. If Kati’s co-workers had been her Union sisters and brothers instead of her competition for hours and wages and working condtions she may have been able to better employ their assistance to help her resolve her situation. Union workers stand together against the bosses transgressions, for non-union workers it’s dog eat dog…or is it the other way around?

  9. Anonymous says:

    It was enjoyable reading the dialogue between these two readers. I want to thank each for their contributions and talking to each other for the most part rather than at each other. Y’all actually got somewhere, which is very satisfying and hopeful.

    What I want to say, however, is directed at a sad truly harmful affront made by DHS.

    The affront is DHS’ damning and demonizing with sexist misogynistic language the Starbucks worker who was raped. It’s such hateful puerile attitudes like his that provoke what people like DHS would consider extreme feminist reactions and assertions. Obviously, he’s more of the problem than he realizes. Maybe he’s young and can still learn. If he’s not, then he still can learn.
    Shaming women is not an ideal nor a virtue, and never ever justified. Instead you should be shamed for doing so. You language matters. It also shows your at least latent misogyny.

    – Aaron

  10. Sorry all, I have been offline for a while trying to keep Congess from driving off a cliff. Apparently their suicide pact worked as planned. Oh well, November will be fun.

    Anonymous, I am sorry that you found my comments about Katie’s mom to be problematic. Katie did what most young people do, behave in a way that places them in danger without realizing the consequences. Expecting parents to guide their childrens decisions and be aware of their activities and choices is not purile. Its what parents are supposed to do.

    Parents who are so disconnected from their childrens lives that they are unaware the child is repeatedly raped have heaped the shame upon themselves. I merely pointed it out. I may not be an ideal or a virtue, but can be useful and instructive for those who witness it.

    Katie didnt need a union. She needed her mom to be a parent.

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