Last night, Starbucks workers held a protest at the company’s Manhattan regional headquarters to protest an increase in the amount employees must pay towards their health insurance coverage. As reported on the Times‘ City Room blog, this is hardly the first time Starbucks has clashed with unionized workers: Last year, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the company had violated labor laws and illegally fired three baristas. The current dispute with Starbucks is one of many chronicled on the website of Industrial Workers of the World, which has been organizing union efforts with Starbucks workers.
A statement on the site describes the health care cuts as a “slap in the face” to workers, particularly as it comes one week after the company announced quarterly profits of $256 million. “We expect more from Starbucks as a leading Fortune 500 company that builds its brand image on its treatment of its ‘partners,’ what it calls employees,” the statement reads. “…Starbucks continues to use health care benefits as a marketing tool, while actually covering a lower percentage of its workforce than the notoriously unethical Wal-Mart.”