Striking Starbucks Workers: When Our Conditions Are Under Attack, Stand Up & Fight Back!

Leaflet distributed by the IWG in Hopewell, New Jersey.

Short-staffing, hour cuts, demands for hour “flexibility”, denials of wage raises and benefits to unionized/unionizing stores, stone-walling of contract negotiations with unionized stores, not to mention the cuts in workers’ real wages through sky-rocketing inflation of basic goods. This comes on top of a concerted campaign by the bosses, Schultz most visibly of all, to crush the worker organizing efforts at Starbucks through firing workers leading the strike and union efforts, and sending out propaganda to the public about Starbucks’ supposedly great benefits that it offers workers. They never mention how these benefits, already crumbs off of the bosses’ table, are taken away the minute workers begin to fight for more. All of this is outrageous but not exceptional in capitalism. Instead it is a rule which has become increasingly intense in recent years. Faced with a 50-year long economic crisis worsened by the pandemic and now imperialist war in Ukraine, the bosses, aka the capitalist class, are desperate for ways to squeeze even more drops of profit out of their already squeezed workers. This is the pattern that Starbucks follows.

Why is Starbucks so anti-union?

Unions were once largely tolerated by the capitalist class, most recently in the period after WW2 until the 1970s. This was before capitalism’s economic crisis, when capitalists could afford to give workers a few more crumbs off of the table in return for the unions keeping the class struggle under control. After the crisis struck, the system began to lose its ability to keep granting workers concessions, meaning that even the unions, the mediators in the workers’ forced sale of their labor-power, became targets of capitalism for limiting the system’s potential for worker exploitation. This is why Starbucks is so anti-union; the bosses see the unions as obstacles to further exploiting you as their collective profit rates stagnate. But this also means that unions can never be a tool for totally ending your exploitation; as permanent tools for negotiating between you and the bosses, they are trapped in the logic of wage labor (your exploitation), and will seek to continue it; only through building bodies which only last for the duration of the struggle (strike committees, mass assemblies, workers’ councils, etc.) will you have the tools for connecting with other workers in generalizing the struggle, controlling it yourselves, and winning it.

The Internationalist Perspective

Ultimately what workers need today is their own self-organization; both in the daily economic struggles of our class like this one, where we fight for workers to form higher and higher forms of self-organization (from strike committees to workers’ councils), as well as in the long-term political struggle against the system which exploits us. To win in the class war, our class needs its own international class political organization. This organization would carry forward the historic lessons learned by the working class in its struggles as they continue, helping facilitate the ultimate seizure of power by our class and the overthrow of the system. While this organization does not currently exist, we are fighting for its construction, to win the class war once and for all.

Internationalist Workers’ Group, US affiliate of the ICT
Thursday, August 11, 2022