Fighting fascism and austerity in Greece

On Wednesday, April 10, Wild Rose Collective co-hosted an event in Iowa City, Iowa with Pavlos speaking as part of a continental speaking tour about resistance in Greece to both fascism and austerity measures. This event was well attended by about 30 people, and raised over $300 to send to Greek social movement activity.

Pavlos spoke on many important issues and movement work in Greece. This also included a very relevant accounting of the 20th century history of occupation, dictatorship and repression in that country. We heard how these experiences have informed the Greek people’s attitudes toward the police and government, and what resistance looks like and is thought of there. He talked about how the police are remembered as collaborators with occupiers, and on the side of the dictatorship and against the people. Continue reading

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Back to the Grind: SWU Southern Midwest Tour a Success

Back in March, we hosted members of the Starbucks Workers Union on their midwest tour. Here is their account of the trip.

On March 19, a delegation of IWW Starbucks baristas from the Twin Cities crammed themselves into one worker’s 3-cylinder Geo Metro and set off on a journey to bring the good word of solidarity unionism to baristas and workers across the lower midwest. Four days later, we returned to the Twin Cities after covering over 1,700 miles, talking to dozens of Starbucks workers about the union, and speaking to enthusiastic audiences in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Iowa City about our efforts to win decent wages, consistent scheduling, and other basic demands through workplace organizing at the world’s largest coffee chain.

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Workers in Rebellion: A May Day Event

May Day has been a significant date for many working people worldwide since the late 19th century. From the battles over the 8-hour day to the general strike, walkouts and rallies of 2006, workers have utilized May 1 to gather with each other and assert their rights.

This May Day, Wild Rose Collective will be hosting a speaking event featuring the following speakers and topics.

  • Paul Street is a journalist, author, historian, political commentator and Iowa City resident. Paul will be speaking about about class power and real reforms vs. illusory ones.
  • Dan Knutson is a member of Wild Rose Collective and will discuss building social movements that can win.
  • Carlos Rich is an organizer for the Center For New Community and will talk about workplace organizing along the food production line.


This event will take place Saturday May 1, 2010 at the Iowa City Public Library (Room A) starting at 3:00 PM.

Come to the Starbucks Workers Union event on March 21st!

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union: Five Years of Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below


Sunday, March 21 2010 2:00

Iowa City Public Library Room A

Talk Description:
On May 17, 2004, baristas at the 36th & Madison Starbucks announced their affiliation with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), one of the oldest unions in the United States. This set the stage for a  global grassroots struggle between the baristas, united under the red flags of the legendary IWW, and the most ubiquitous symbol of corporate globalization in the world: Starbucks. Despite a vicious union-busting counteroffensive initiated by CEO Howard Schultz and coordinated by the law firm Akin Gump, five years later, the workers movement continues to gain momentum as workers around the world join the campaign.

In this talk, rank-and-file Starbucks baristas will discuss the truth about life behind the counter in the corporate chains, and explain how their innovative Solidarity Unionism organizing model has enabled the IWW to establish a foothold in an industry with the lowest union density in the United States.

Background: Working at Starbucks
While portraying itself as a ‘socially-responsible’ employer, Starbucks pays baristas a poverty wage usually hovering around the legal state minimum.  In addition, all retail hourly workers at Starbucks in the United States are part-time employees with no guaranteed number of work hours per week. According to Starbucks figures released to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 40.9% of its employees (including managers) are covered by the company health care package, a lower percentage than the oft-criticized Wal-Mart, which insures 47% of its workforce.

Since the launch of the IWW campaign at Starbucks on May 17, 2004, the company has been cited multiple times for illegal union-busting by the National Labor Relations Board.  The company settled seven complaints against it and was found guilty by a judge in New York on more than 30 additional rights’ violations.  Starbucks’ large anti-union operation is operated in conjunction with the Akin Gump law firm and the Edelman public relations firm.

The Starbucks Workers Union is an organization of employees at the world’s largest coffee chain united for a living wage, secure work hours, and respect on the job.  We are part of the Industrial Workers of the World, a union for all workers.  Working together, we have won improvements in wages and working conditions and remedied individual grievances with management. The Starbucks Workers Union is driven by solidarity unionism, an innovative and powerful 21st century approach to improve our life at work.

For more information, visit our website at http://www.starbucksunion.org.

In the Media
New York Times: “Starbucks Loses Round in Battle Over Union” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/24/nyregion/24starbucks.html
Fort Worth Weekly: “A Cup of Union”
http://www.fwweekly.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2402:a-cup-of-union&catid=76:metropolis&Itemid=377

City Pages: “Baristas Union Drive Comes at a Key Time” http://www.citypages.com/2008-07-30/news/starbucks-baristas-union-drive-comes-at-key-time/

In These Times: “Union Made Lattes”
http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/4103/union_made_lattes/