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Union buster Starbucks reportedly joins group seeking compromise on Employee Free Choice Act

03.22.09

http://www.examiner.com/x-2071-DC-Special-Interests-Examiner~y2009m3d21-Union-buster-Starbucks-reportedly-joins-group-seeking-compromise-on-Employee-Free-Choice-Act?cid=examiner-email

by Ron Moore

The Associated Press is reporting that Starbucks Corp. and other companies are exploring alternatives to a bill that would make it easier for workers to unionize, but the idea of any compromise drew the wrath of business groups lobbying furiously to defeat the measure.

Officials at the coffee giant would not discuss exactly what alternatives to the Employee Free Choice Act the companies are considering, but confirmed late Friday that the company is “engaged in dialogue” on the topic.

“We have had conversations with like-minded companies and are open to exploring alternative solutions to the legislation as it is currently written,” Starbucks spokeswoman Deb Trevino said.

A person familiar with the discussions said the other companies exploring alternatives include food seller Whole Foods Market Inc. and retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. The person spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The article quotes Stefan H. Gleason, vice president of the anti-union corporate front group the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who called Starbucks’ position “totally unacceptable.”

“There can be no compromise whatsoever on the card-check bill,” Gleason said. “For any company to cut a deal with big labor is to support passage of card check.”

Whole Foods spokeswoman Libba Letton said the companies have been talking about “finding fair alternatives” to the current bill.

The Employee Free Choice Act allows workers to negotiate with their employer after a majority approve through a card check vote. Workers have the option to conduct a second vote before negotiating; currently that choice is given only to employers. Only after a good faith agreement is reached and approved in a secret ballot vote do the worker have a union.

Starbucks has a history of union busting and recently fired a union activist who attempted to speak with CEO Schultz about working conditions.

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