Starbucks, that epitome of a socially-conscious corporation, is now the target of an escalating campaign to blacken its name. One can understand why radical activists would go after discount retailing behemoth Wal-Mart. But who would have thought they’d also have classy Starbucks in their sights?
Last month, Brave New Films, an independent documentary production company based in Culver City, California, launched its “Stop Starbucks” campaign. The website (www.stopstarbucks.com) features a four-minute video posting on YouTube alleging mistreatment by the company toward employees, plus a petition demanding Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz “quit following Wal-Mart’s anti-union example.” Within a week, nearly 12,000 viewers had signed it. The campaign also featured a Twitter sabotage of a Starbucks photo promotion, replete with clever messages like “I want my union with my latte” and “Schultz makes millions, workers make beans.”
On closer inspection, this makes sense. The head of Brave New Films is Robert Greenwald, producer of the 2005 anti-corporate agitprop feature, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.” As much as the Right, the Left has taken to New Media. Greenwald, for one, is a believer. “What happens with these things is that people watch it, send the link to friends, and you can see it build,” he notes. “It’s a tool that doesn’t cost billions of dollars.”
This corporate campaign didn’t happen in a vacuum. Brave New Films is tight with organized labor. And right now unions are engaged in an eleventh-hour blitz to get Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), legislation having nothing to do with expanding worker choice and everything to do with expanding union clout. EFCA would require an employer to recognize as binding any union organizing campaign that obtains a simple majority of signatures from affected workers who indicate a desire to join. In addition to this “card check” provision, which effectively would end secret-ballot elections, it would mandate an arbitration process whose rapid-fire timetable would work to a union’s advantage and whose decisions would not be subject to appeal.
Carl F. Horowitz is director of the Organized Labor Accountability Project of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Townhall.com Gold Partner organization dedicated to promoting ethics in American public life.
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