Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fuck Starbucks, Fuck Whole Foods, Fuck Costco

Costco, Starbucks, Whole Foods Present Alternative Labor Plan - washingtonpost.com
(H/T: AP):
As business and labor gird for battle over legislation that would make it easier for workers to organize, the debate could be transformed by a "third way" proposed by three companies that like to project a progressive image -- Costco, Starbucks and Whole Foods.

Like other businesses, the three companies are opposed to two of the Employee Free Choice Act's components -- a provision that would allow workers to form a union if a majority sign pro-union cards, without having to hold a secret ballot election, and one that would impose binding arbitration when employers and unions fail to reach a contract after 120 days.

To all our readers who aren't necessarily immersed in the labor movement: this is an attempt to get you, the highly-educated, conspicuously consuming progressive, to identify with these corporations against unions, workers, rising wages, workplace democracy, and something like a for-real check on corporate largesse. At this point in the Employee Free Choice Act debate, y'all's hearts and minds are endlessly more important than those of us laborite nerds. If you don't feel like this Employee Free Choice Act has been defined to your liking on this blog or elsewhere, or if you would like some specific, anecdotal illustrations of how the present process of forming a union is tailor-made for employer intimidation, please say so. Point blank: this bill is the last best chance for workers -- and I am including anybody who works for wages, here -- that we will see during the Obama administration, let alone whatever Jindal or Udall or whatever-the-shit administration will follow.

Nobody reading this blog loves coffee, Ryan Adams cds, organic produce, fake meat products and cheap Ric Flair dvds more than me; but never mind what they're selling, eh? It's what you're buying. The US Chamber of Commerce is betting that NPR fans and Gen X ur-hipsters identify more with their latte store and its liberal arts semiotics than they do with the folks who brought us the weekend -- which side are you freaks on? Are you primarily a consumer of steamed milk or a worker, like other workers, who figures 40+ hours a week of whatever-the-fuck merits economic security and, shucks, the right to do your job and have a say at work without fear of employer behavior that can be alternately arbitrary, patronizing, charitable or cruel, but which is always, as it stands in the non-unionized workforce, damn near unfuckwithable?

7 comments:

evil r + b guy said...

The weekend.

lex dexter said...

UPDATE: it's worth noting that Ben Smith at the Politico is reporting this development as tho the "Committee for a Level Playing Field" are a buncha mavericks fucking with the corporate status quo:

The EFCA third-wayers Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Costco -- whose existence is driving the business lobby crazy -- put out a press release today calling themselves the "Committee for a Level Playing Field" and articulating some principles.

They're advised by former Clinton hand Lanny Davis, the release says, and it's worth keeping in mind that whatever its legislative logic, this is a great, great P.R. gambit for the companies.

On the substance, they suggest a middle ground on how workers would sign up for unions, and favor raising damages for illegal union-busting, but side with the rest of the business lobby on the key question of mandatory arbitration.

Still, the reason they matter is that their presence could offer legislators cover for voting for a compromise, something business groups today are stressing they'll try to deny.

UPDATE: The AFL-CIO's Bill Samuel responds in a somewhat warmer fashion than the business side:

The Employee Free Choice Act is about protecting the fundamental freedom of workers to bargain with their employers for a better life and to join a union without corporate interference and harassment.

The proposal being circulated by these companies falls short of meeting these standards.

We are open to discussing the legislation with parties who are legitimately concerned with protecting workers. However, a proposal coming from corporations, some of whom have their own history of violating workers' rights, is simply not an alternative that lives up to giving workers back the freedom to form unions.

Of particular concern is the removal of majority sign up – which exists under current law - and the removal of the arbitration provisions. Removing the arbitration provisions will allow companies to continue to stall and delay and refuse to negotiate a contract in good faith.

brown beard said...

Thanks for these updates. It is definitely appreciated.

brown beard said...

by the way, those two provisions the "Prog Three" oppose (the card signing and the forced arbitration)...does it go without saying that those two things are the whole fucking point of the EFCA?

gabbagabbahey said...

yeah... to me that seems like a pretty poor compromise. and as a safeguard they'll tighten up on employer intimidation while also tightening up on unions? nice try.

as an outsider, I'm just getting my head around EFCA. was watching Silkwood last night and saw the decertification election in it, so that helped. I think the issue is more of recognition of unions rather than certification here in Ireland.

at least I have a reason to avoid Starbucks now. utterly soul-destroying places (and that's just drinking coffee in them).

dr said...

They've got Ric Flair DVDs? Are these from before the most recent comeback? May have to reconsider my political views...

lex dexter said...

DR,

I bought a 3-dvd Ric Flair set at Costco with an awesome documentary (I've watched half), classic matches (I've watched none), and a dozen promo interviews from 1985 that feature all of the Horseman/Space Mountain awesomeness you'd want (I've watched all of 'em).