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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

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    UA retailers worthy of boycotting for their labor policies

    Retailers with abysmal labor records dominate our campus. Our Coke dispensers are stained with the blood of murdered Colombian union organizers. Our bookstore has Nike apparel stitched by sweatshop and “”forced labor”” – slavery by any other term – from Southeast Asia. Those scrumptious BK burgers come from a company that routinely violates labor laws and institutionally obstructs unionization.

    Of all the new campus companies, Starbucks projects the most “”progressive”” image. The coffee giant has painted itself as big-time purchaser of fair trade (ethically produced) coffee. Brief investigation, however, reveals that Starbucks has only made an insignificant devotion to fair trade brands. Instead they prefer to buy cheaper beans produced by tragically impoverished Ethiopian farmers with few, if any, labor rights.

    Now Starbucks is hurting poor workers at home. In step with other large corporations, Starbucks is campaigning against the pending Employee Free Choice Act, a bill once fervently supported by President Barack Obama and the Democrats. Among other pro-worker provisions, the legislation would allow unions to materialize without lengthy elections, which alert employers and often result in relentless harassment and intimidation against union supporters.

    Although taking a relatively reserved stance against the act, keeping with their “”enlightened”” persona, Starbucks opposes this key provision. Their stance shouldn’t come as a shock as they have constantly disrespected the right of baristas to form a union.

    As reasons for wanting to establish a union, employees have cited the assigning of terrible schedules, poverty wages, and continually keeping part-time workers’ hours below the threshold needed for health insurance eligibility. This leaves only 42 percent of the employees receiving the health insurance plan, a percentage lower than even Walmart. A union would indisputably begin to halt these injustices and bring some democracy to the workplace – something Starbucks openly doesn’t believe in.

    Since it’s clear that university officials have no moral conscience when deciding which companies are permitted to operate on our campus, it’s up to consumers to act in solidarity with baristas and coffee farmers to rein in Starbucks’ abuses. Until then, Starbucks, and the other shameful companies noted, don’t deserve to be on our campus.

    Brian Hennigan

    history senior

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