CAW Canada Local 3000 - Starbucks UnStrike

October 13th, 1999


Send Starbucks A Message

Dear Friends:

We need your help to win our CAW Canada Local 3000 UnStrike against Starbucks Coffee, which started October 4th, 1999. At the end of this leaflet are sites to contact us and to Send Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz A Message. Thank you for reading this leaflet and for taking the time to Send Starbucks A Message.

We are 120 members of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 3000 in British Columbia. We work at 12 unionized Starbucks stores: 11 in Vancouver and 1 in Westbank: the only unionized Starbucks outlets of some 2,200 worldwide. While our economic impact within the Starbucks empire is obviously limited, with your help our public relations impact can be significant. We are in a David and Goliath battle for the hearts and minds of the public in our dispute with the worlds’ largest coffee retailer. That’s why we are UnStriking at this time. The issues on the bargaining table are very basic: fair wages, earned sick leave, scheduling of work and training procedures.

What the heck is an UnStrike?

Many of you are asking ‘what the heck is an UnStrike?’. An ‘Unstrike’ is a pressure tactic, developed in British Columbia, that meets the legal definition of a strike, giving UnStrikers’ conduct protection under the provincial Labour Relations Code. But unlike a traditional strike, in an UnStrike we continue to work, get paid and provide service to our customers: but its service with a difference. To draw attention to our dispute we are refusing to adhere to the Starbucks dress code. Instead we are wearing what we please, including one member who served customers wearing a dressing gown and bedroom slippers. Others sport brilliantly coloured hair, tatoos and more. And ‘wearing what we please’ includes wearing our ‘Warbucks Coffee’ buttons and t-shirts. Our ‘Warbucks Coffee’ logo borrows the green circular design from Starbucks, but the mermaid in the centre is replaced with a red, white and blue ‘Uncle Sam Wants You’ image. [No hidden imagery here!] To focus attention on one of our key bargaining demands of earned sick leave, bold red letters below the pointing ‘Warbucks’ logo say ‘Hey. Get sick on your own time "partner"!: a play on Starbucks’ rhetoric which terms hourly workers "partners" in an attempt to secure loyalty to the ‘partnership’. The shirt backs further underscore the earned sick leave issue with lettering that reads "I didn’t have any sick leave so I phoned in dead. Now my boss wants a Coroners’ Certificate before I come back to work". We think a little humour goes a long way.

As well we are handing out leaflets to the public, similar to this electronic leaflet, as we work, on the streets and to gatherings of friendly folk, with an addressed and postage paid tear-off addressed to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz which says:

Dear Mr. Schultz:

I am writing to let you know that I support the members of CAW Local 3000 in their UnStrike against Starbucks Coffee Corporation to achieve a renewed collective agreement inclusive of fair wages and earned sick leave. Your corporate success depends on your employees. Please show you care.


We are getting wonderful and welcome public support and Howard is getting a daily delivery of cards supporting that’s a ‘win-win’ situation!

We achieved our historic first collective in July 1997, making significant gains in the areas of seniority as a key factor in scheduling hours and vacations, maximizing the length of shifts through the work week, anti-harassment language, a grievance-arbitration procedure and across the board wage increases that totaled $1.00 over the life of the agreement. Starbucks’ responded by extending the monetary gains to all non-union stores in Canada, to undermine employee interest in unionizing - ‘all the gain without the pain’, or so Starbucks would have people believe.

Starbucks is again resisting union gains as we bargain our second agreement. They want to avoid having to give improvements 1) because they don’t want to have to pay, and 2) they don’t want to give the union additional credibility in the eyes of non-union Baristas. They fear that more Baristas will see the sense in helping to build a stronger base of union strength to counter Starbucks. In effect we are having to bargain for all Starbucks Baristas, union and non-union alike, on the strength of our 12 units. It a tough struggle but one we feel is worth fighting, but we need your help if we are to win.

A Living Wage Not "Nickels and Dimes"

Starbucks wage offer is "nickels and dimes" - less than the rate of inflation. Despite Starbucks’ carefully constructed image of the "small-L-liberal-enlightened-employer’, what we see at the bargaining table is good, old fashioned corporate arrogance and greed. As you might suspect our incomes are far from ‘enlightened’ or ‘liberal’. Most of us work part-time, average around

$8.60 per hour and take home less than $800 per month. Even our highest paid members, Shift Supervisors, only take home about $1,000.00 per month. We need a living wage not "nickels and dimes"!

Salaried managers have a comprehensive sick leave plan. Hourly employees have no paid sick leave at all. When we get sick, even for a day, we are scrambling to buy groceries and make the month’s rent. Most of us are economically compelled to work when we are sick. In saying NO to earned sick leave Starbucks is really saying to us ‘Hey! Get sick on your own time "partner"!’. Some ‘partnership’. We need earned sick leave proportional to hours worked - the more hours worked, the more sick leave earned.

Phenomenal Revenues- Phenomenal Growth

Starbucks may be offering us just "nickels and dimes" but their ‘bottom line’ is quite another story. This Spring Starbucks raised prices on blended beverages as much as 25%. For the 3 months ending June 27th net revenues increased 27% to $424 million ($US) earned in just 13 weeks, over the same period last year. Through 1999, on average, a new Starbucks store opened every 16 hours of every day of every week to bring the world wide total to about 2,200 stores. Starbucks is poised to earn well in excess of $1 billion in revenues this year.

Virtually all of Starbucks’ phenomenal grow has been financed out of phenomenal revenues. The hard work of hourly Baristas, both union and non-union, have helped make Starbucks the tremendous financial success story that it is. Hourly employees deserve genuine respect and a share in the success our labour has wrought.

Elevating the Service Sector

The nature of work has changed dramatically over the last several decades. As we approach the new millennium there are relatively fewer jobs in the resource, manufacturing and construction sectors and relatively more jobs in the service sectors. The reasons are varied: advanced technology, exploitation of cheap off-shore labour, free trade and more. With some exceptions, service sector jobs generally pay lower wages, provide fewer benefits and generate lower tax revenues than is the case in the more traditional sectors of our economy. This directly and adversely impacts service sector workers. It also adversely impacts the whole of our society.

As more of our population are employed in the service sectors we need to consciously and systematically elevate both the earning power and social status of service sector workers. If we fail to do this we will erode the collective purchasing power which drives our economy. We will undermine the our collective capacity to provide the high quality public services we want and need for ourselves and our families. We will reduce our capacity to ensure our environment is protected and restored. In the end we will all lose. It may sound simple, but it is true: good jobs are critical to a healthy society.

Our fight for a living wage and earned sick pay is a small but nevertheless important part of the struggle to elevate the service sector and strengthen our society. We hope you agree.

Please take time to Send Starbucks A Message

Howard Schultz
President and CEO
Starbucks Coffee Corporation
2401 Utah Ave.
South Seattle,
Washington US 98124
tel: (206) 447-1575 fax: (206) 447-3432


Christian Codrington
Manager Partner Relations - Western Canada
Starbucks Vancouver Offices
200 - 128 West 6th Ave.
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1K6
Tel: (604) 708-9233
fax: (604) 708-2216

CAW Local 3000 - Starbucks UnStrikers
326 12th St.
New Westminster, BC V3M 4H6
tel: (604) 526-3038 toll free:1 800 862-3088 fax: (604) 524-6762
e-mail: c/o

Please copy this material and circulate it as broadly as possible. E-mail it, regular mail it, post it, reprint it, pass it along to family, friends and co-workers any way you can. Help us get to as many fair minded people as possible.

Thank you for taking time to Send Starbucks A Message.

In Solidarity,

CAW Canada Local 3000 - UnStriking Starbucks Workers