(SEATTLE) – Teamsters from Local 117 in Tukwila, Wash. conducted a hand billing action at Starbucks corporate headquarters in Seattle on Wednesday, demanding that the company hold its food supplier Taylor Farms accountable for human rights violations at its Tracy, Calif. plant.
Passing out leaflets that read “Starbucks: Silence Equals Abuse”, members of the Teamsters along with Pride at Work and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO called out Starbucks for its hypocrisy and its support of a food supplier with a terrible safety and health record.
“Starbucks has long maintained that it is a corporation committed to equality,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 117. “If that is the case, why do they purchase food from a company that allows LGBT workers to be physically assaulted and harassed at work? Money is the most powerful thing in business and if Starbucks has any integrity, they would invest in food suppliers that have basic standards for human decency.”
Starbucks’ standards for supplier social responsibility states that “Suppliers shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, parental status, pregnancy, or other similar factors in hiring practices or any other term or condition of work.” It also requires its suppliers to “recognize and respect the right of workers to freedom of association and to bargain collectively. Workers must not be subject to intimidation or harassment in the exercise their right to join or to refrain from joining any organization.”
But when a delegation of union supporters attempted to meet with Starbucks management on Wednesday to discuss the violations at Taylor Farms, Starbucks refused to meet with the group.
The Teamsters have been attempting to organize food processing workers at Taylor Farms to improve unsafe working conditions and put an end to the company’s abuse of its workers’ rights. The union is also demanding an end to repeated harassment and abuse of LGBT workers at Taylor Farms.
Following Wednesday’s action in from of Starbucks headquarters, Teamster representatives and a worker from Taylor Farms met with delegates of the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO to discuss the situation at the salad processing plant in Tracy, Calif.
“I’m glad the Teamsters have brought attention to the issue in labor community here,” said Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Labor Council. “Starbucks’ complacency in the face of hate crimes against LGBT workers from one of their suppliers is cowardly and deplorable. The Seattle labor movement proudly backs our brothers and sisters in California fighting for safe working conditions and a union. We will be educating all our affiliates about this.”
“There’s no excuse for silence,” Scearcy added. “Starbucks needs to either tell Taylor Farms to allow their workers to form a union in order to resolve this litany of issues, or drop them as a supplier. We will continue to protest until this happens.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit www.Teamster.org.