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Free «Union Baristas at Starbucks» Essay Sample

Case Summary

Starbucks was ranked among the top 100 Best Companies to Work for in 2008 by Fortune magazine (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2009). However, this acknowledgement did not change people’s perception of the company with respect to candidates being aspired to work there. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) has been implementing a campaign to organize Starbucks workers for several years. It has been an attempt to enlighten them on their labor rights. Consequently, the company has always fought back. The IWW reports that only 42 percent of Starbucks employees are covered with health insurance. This percentage is even lower than the 47 percent at Wal-Mart. In response, the company argues that over 90 percent of its workers are covered with health insurance including part-timers.

The IWW played a significant role in pressuring for increased wages and favorable working conditions in the company. However, the company’s management denied it arguing that the IWW made no difference to the company’s operations. The IWW continued to accuse the company of firing three employees for showing loyalty to the union (Herbst, 2007). The company was also accused of giving negative appraisals to workers who supported the union while prohibiting them from wearing union pins. The issue was serious and it resulted in a hearing pushed by the National Labor Relations Board. Starbucks denied the charges, but the defense became awkward when e-mail messages shared by managers were revealed (Maher, 2008). It was clear that managers were unhappy with the workers who graduated from labor programs. As expected, the company denied it arguing that they respected the free will of their employees.



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Question 1

One of the challenges that the IWW is likely to face is resistance from management. Starbucks management is opposed to change. Therefore, it would be impossible for them to allow the IWW make changes in their own territory. They believe in managing the company in the way they know best without interference from external environment. The second challenge that the IWW would face is dishonesty from the company’s management. It has denied all the claims directed to them concerning their employees. They have denied poor wages, lack of compensation and benefits, lack of health insurance, and unreasonable firing of workers. Therefore, it would be difficult for the IWW to organize workers without knowing exactly what they lack or have.

Question 2

The defense portrayed by Starbuck is extremely strong. The company denies every claim that is directed on it by providing a counter argument. For instance, when accused of having only 42 percent of health insured workers the company counter argues that 90 percent of its workers are insured. The best form of defense is attacking back and providing enough evidence. Additionally, the company should think of preparing a detailed compensation program and an updated register of health insurances. It will explain things better to the IWW as opposed to the word of mouth.

Question 3

If the IWW manages to organize unions at the company, management would start to respect workers and their decisions. They would also provide compensation when it’s due because of the fear of being pressured to do so. All workers’ rights would be respected with no instances of firing or unreasonable suspension. Starbucks would also prepare compensation and welfare programs for its workers as a way of motivating them. Similarly, the company would respect the free will of employees and allow them to join the union voluntarily. Any resistance from management would result in a strike or a go-slow staged by the union.


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