Workers at an LA Starbucks file petition to unionize

They allege low wages, erratic scheduling, unsanitary conditions and workloads that leave employees exhausted

Low wages, erratic scheduling, unsanitary conditions and heavy workloads are the chief complaints driving workers at a Starbucks in Los Angeles to unionize.

Employees filed a petition Friday with the National Labor Relations Board to join Starbucks Workers United.

“We expect to hear back from the labor board in six weeks,” said Andrew Gillespie, a shift supervisor at the store, at 5757 Wilshire Blvd. near the La Brea Tar Pits. “Then we’ll hold our election and hopefully win our union.”

The employees are joining a nationwide movement that has seen more than 9,000 baristas organizing for better working conditions, fair wages and consistent schedules.

Starbucks Workers United has gained considerable traction in recent years, unionizing more than 360 Starbucks stores in 41 states and Washington, D.C. since December 2021.

Locally, that includes three LA locations and two in Anaheim, with additional stores in Long Beach, Lakewood, Huntington Beach, La Quinta, Barstow, Encinitas and San Diego.

Gillespie, 26, who has worked at the Wilshire Boulevard store for a year and a half, said management has been “unsupportive” in its scheduling.

“They’re focused on trying to cut labor costs wherever possible,” he said. “Business is always heavy in the morning, but it’s busy in the afternoon, too and employees will end up doing the work of two, three or even four people.”

Gillespie said the store has also had an ongoing problem with ants, cockroaches and mosquitoes.

“They come from the Miracle Mile drainage system,” he said. “I’ve tried to get them to bring in an exterminator, but they just give us DIY tips on how to address it ourselves.”

In a statement issued Monday, Nov. 20, Starbucks said it’s encouraged by the progress it’s seen toward first contracts at stores where union representatives have approached bargaining with “professionalism and an actual interest in discussing partner priorities with our bargaining committees.”

“Wherever we can quickly and broadly improve partner benefits and perks, our history demonstrates we have,” the company said.

Starbucks Workers United said the coffee chain has launched a “ruthless union-busting campaign.”

“We demand change in our workplace and do not deserve retaliation for trying to speak up,” said Hailie Muro, a barista at the LA location.

Administrative judges have issued 37 decisions finding Starbucks committed more than 300 federal labor law violations, the union said, including unlawful firings, refusing to bargain and giving nonunion workers higher wages and better benefits than employees who have sought to unionize.

decision last month by Judge Mara-Louise Anzalone marked the first nationwide ruling against the coffee giant amid its resistance to a unionization wave that began two years ago.

Anzalone noted that Starbucks has rolled out new wage rates and expanded benefits to employees, but only to its “entire hourly, nonunion workforce.” She ordered the company to compensate thousands of unionized workers for the wages and benefits they were unlawfully denied.

Starbucks said it recently announced annual pay raises of 3-5% for “all eligible U.S. hourly retail partners, differentiated for tenure — further enhancing our current average U.S. hourly partner pay of $17.50 per hour.”

Gillespie said workers at the LA store are seeking a base wage of $20 an hour.

Click here to read the full article at OC Register

State of California declares coffee’s cancer risk insignificant

In news that’s sure to perk up coffee lovers, the state of California has officially declared that your morning jolt of java does not pose a “significant” cancer risk.

The rule means coffee won’t have to carry ominous warnings that the beverage may be bad for you, as AP reported. The state took the unusual move after a Los Angeles judge found Starbucks Corp. and other companies failed to show that benefits from drinking coffee outweighed risks from a byproduct of the roasting process. That ruling could have forced the industry to develop a process to remove the chemical from beans or grounds or warn consumers about the risk of cancer. The industry was also facing potentially huge civil penalties.

The chemical in question, acrylamide, is on a list that California says causes cancer, though other groups classify it as a “probable” carcinogen.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment concluded there was no significant risk after the World Health Organization reviewed more than 1,000 studies and found inadequate evidence that coffee causes cancer. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Jose Mercury News

California Moves to Prevent Cancer Warnings on Coffee

CoffeeThe State of California is slated to have a public hearing this week over a proposal that would declare coffee poses “no significant risk of cancer.”

The hearing in Sacramento could be the end of a lengthy, statewide debate that began in 2010 when a nonprofit filed a lawsuit against coffee producers regarding a chemical in roasted coffee that has been found to elevate the risk of cancer in rodents.

Earlier this year, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle handed down a ruling that said all coffee served in California had to include a cancer warning. As The New York Times reported Wednesday, the World Health Organization retorted in June that evidence was scant in regards to coffee causing cancer.

On Thursday, members of the public will have the opportunity to make their voices heard as California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) tries to pass a rule that says drinking coffee does not carry with it an elevated risk of getting cancer. …

Click here to read the full article from News Max

Is Coffee the New Gold Standard?

Since 1971, the United States has been off the gold standard. Instead of the value of the dollar being defined in terms of gold, our currency is said to be backed by “The full faith and credit of the United States.”

However, listening to politicians, the new standard for backing taxpayer dollars may be coffee, or, more specifically, the latte.

coffee latteEndorsing efforts to impose a parcel tax on property owners to support parks — parks that have been purposely ignored in the Los Angeles County general fund budget — Supervisor Hilda Solis trivialized the tax saying, “For Pete’s sake, what does it amount to for the average voter, a latte a month at Starbucks?” Her colleague, Sheila Kuehl, upped the ante, gleefully saying the permanent property tax increase would be like, walking into Starbucks and getting anything you want because parks are free. “I proudly support taxing and spending,” she added.

A dozen years ago, I wrote the following about the way politicians deceptively describe tax increases: Public officials pushing for a tax increase love to break the cost to taxpayers down to insignificant sounding amounts, usually the cost per month, or even the cost per day, and add the words “it’s only.”

I added that the award for the most arrogant example of using “it’s only” should go to the Los Angeles Community College Chancellor who had described the cost of a new bond as “the equivalent of one regular latte a month,” and I asked if the latte — a drink now costing nearly four bucks — would become the new standard by which taxes are measured.

Regrettably, I was prescient. Those promoting taxes in this manner assume that everyone can, like them, afford to hang out at trendy boutique coffee shops.

The reality is that millions of Californians, including millions of homeowners, buy their coffee already ground, and, for them, four dollars will pay for several weeks’ worth of the caffeinated beverage. These are the same folks who are already hammered by California’s high sales, gas and income taxes. Few of them can afford to spend much at Starbucks, or any other place serving overpriced, exotic coffee drinks.

However, if the tax raisers could be permanently bought off for four dollars a month, many taxpayers would gladly take that deal. Sadly, that would not even come close to satisfying the greed of the political class. For example, Los Angeles County is considering a second new tax for homeless services. The city of Los Angeles is seeking its own “homeless” tax and the local transportation authority is asking voters to approve an increase in the sales tax.

Those outside the Los Angeles area should be careful not to be tempted to relax, since scores of additional taxes, and as many as several hundred bonds that increase property taxes, are expected to be placed on the November ballot by other local jurisdictions. And let’s not forget the income tax and tobacco taxes that will appear on the state ballot.

These taxes are cumulative, not just a latte here and a latte there. Los Angeles Supervisor Don Knabe, who voted against the parks tax, may have best summed up the problem for California taxpayers when he observed that between the state, the counties and the cities, government agencies are asking everyone to buy a Starbucks franchise.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.