US workers mobilise in fight for trade unions and unionisation!


STARBUCKS, the world’s largest coffee chain, has been stunned by an explosion of its workers demanding trade union rights across America.

Last year, a group of Starbucks workers in western New York started the fight for a union, Starbucks Workers United, that has spread across the country and become a rallying point for a drive by low paid unorganised workers to fight for union recognition that is sweeping America.

Starbucks, a notoriously anti-union company, has reacted to this threat by waging a fierce legal battle at the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that referees private-sector union elections, to slow down or stop workers from voting for union recognition.

More than 50 Starbucks stores in 19 states are opposing petitions for union elections.

Starbucks has now resorted to more direct methods to prevent union organisation.

Its store in Buffalo New York, is the home of the first unionised Starbucks owned store in the US.

In what labour organisers said was retaliation in a bid to slow the momentum of unionisation, a number of workers leading the fight to form a union have been sacked in Memphis, Tennessee.

The company claimed these workers had broken rules regarding accessing stores after hours to give interviews about union efforts.

Starbucks Workers United said it was filing charges over the seven firings at the store in Memphis with the NLRB saying that Starbucks was selectively enforcing policies as a ‘subterfuge’ to fire union leaders.

Starbucks is clearly vying with Amazon for the title of most anti-union employer in the US.

This week over 6,000 workers at Amazon warehouses in Alabama will be voting again on whether to have a union.

This was after the NLRB ruled that a previous ballot that rejected unionisation wasn’t fair due to Amazon engaging in serious labour law violations, including confiscating pro-union literature and accusations of the company illegally threatening, interrogating and surveilling workers as they voted.

The massive movement to fight for trade unions is a continuation at a higher level of the strike wave that hit the US last year, by workers in low paid, insecure jobs demanding union recognition and a nationwide $15 an hour minimum wage.

This mass movement, which quickly formed links with the Black Lives Matter movement, won the overwhelming support of US workers.

The youth, who emerged as the leadership of these struggles against poverty wages and atrocious working conditions, are now spearheading the drive that is bringing them into open conflict with the bosses and poses a massive threat to a crisis-ridden US capitalist system.

US president Joe Biden is acutely aware of this threat, and this week the White House published a report of the ‘Task Force on Worker Organising and Empowerment’, which contained a wish list of proposals ‘to promote my (Biden) policy of support for workers power, workers organising and collective bargaining.’

All of these statements about workers empowerment mean nothing. The Federal government has no control over private business and how it deals with workers and, anyway, any proposal will, as Biden knows, fall in a divided Congress.

This is Biden’s attempt to portray himself as the ‘friend of unions’, winning over the support of the trade union leaders who have claimed that these proposals ‘prove Biden stands with unions’, and head off a revolutionary confrontation with the working class.

The trade union leaders may be seduced by Biden’s empty promises but they will cut no ice with the millions of US workers and youth who are fighting a daily struggle against poverty level wages, insecure work and dangerous working conditions.

The mass movement sweeping the US and led by young people will be demanding more than pledges but that the trade unions break with the Democrats and establish a Labour Party to fight for their interests and not the interests of the bosses and bankers.

A Labour Party with a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International playing a decisive role.

This will abolish poverty by leading the powerful US working class in the struggle to overthrow capitalism, expropriate the bosses and bankers and go forward to the Socialist United States of America.