Statement on Starbucks Workers United


The Socialist Party of America exists to awaken and empower American workers, regardless of their personal ideologies or field of work. This has always been our primary mission and concern. Historically, the Socialist Party of America took a central role in early 20th century strikes and organizing. In the strike wave of 1909, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City was specifically named as a hazardous workplace with underpaid workers in dangerous sweatshop conditions.

On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out at the factory. Because of a combination of flammable oil being stored inside the building and the fact that company owners locked the doors to prevent unauthorized work breaks and theft, 146 workers were trapped inside and died in the fire. While the workers had been complaining for years about these and other issues, their complaints were not taken seriously, as they were viewed as low-skilled workers—mostly immigrants, women, and children. It took their deaths to spur action, which resulted in not only new safety standards, but the formation of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

Today, jobs in food service, such as baristas, are similarly viewed as labor performed by “unskilled workers” or as “starter jobs for teenagers.” The facts: nearly 80% of workers in America work at these types of service jobs, and nearly 100,000 of these workers still suffer serious physical injuries at work each year. At Starbucks, one worker says she was forced to continue working after receiving 2nd degree burns.

Companies like Starbucks spend an estimated $340 million annually on union-busting efforts, and employers are charged with violating labor laws in 41.5% of all union elections. Starbucks has threatened employees, implied they will lose their benefits with a union, cut hours of suspected union organizers, and even closed entire stores to avoid unionization efforts. Even in the face of these union-busting activities, over 150 stores have unionized this year.

Other unionization efforts in America have revealed that corporations are getting smarter and finding new ways to bust union organizing. At Google, the so-called “Alphabet Workers Union” was formed by internal management to create grievance councils under the HR department. These styles of “union” specifically prohibit collective bargaining and strikes, and ultimately serve as a workplace party planning committee. Their essence is that of sabotage and sheepdogging workers away from actual unionization efforts. Our party has been vocal about the dangers of supporting these phony efforts. However, the recent efforts of Starbucks workers stand in stark contrast.

The Starbucks workers’ union, Starbucks Workers United, seeks to improve working conditions: regular scheduling, required breaks between shifts, increases in wages and benefits, improved safety, and other demands won via collective bargaining and strikes. Starbucks Workers United is a real labor union and deserves our support and the support of communists everywhere.

According to the theories of Karl Marx, any worker who trades their labor power for a wage is a member of the working class. The level of physical labor required for your job does not change this fact. Under capitalism, companies rely on driving wages as low as possible in order to turn a profit. Unions are essential to maintain a level of human dignity under wage slavery.

With that in mind and in carrying with our long tradition of standing for all workers, the Socialist Party of America is proud to endorse and support the unionization efforts of Starbucks workers and Starbucks Workers United.

Statement on Ukraine

Socialist Party of America
Statement on Ukraine
Feb 26, 2022

The global fight against imperialism is manifesting physically in Ukraine. While NATO forces bend their own rules and sneak supplies to what remains of the Ukrainian forces, US Congress proposes sending $6.4 billion in weapons and other aid during a failed domestic pandemic response at home. Ukraine’s representative to the UN is asking for negotiations with Russia to discuss terms of surrender, proposing full neutrality for Ukraine, while US media reports imply that Ukraine is “winning.”

Russian forces began their operations after 8 years of inaction from so-called peacekeepers in response to Ukraine’s barbaric genocide in the sovereign territories of Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). This after an even longer period of illegal NATO expansion which began after the capitalist sabotage and dismantling of the Soviet Union and other independent socialist territories over 30 years ago.

Russian military action is not a new land grab or some sort of unhinged war of domination, as mainstream media portrays. Russia’s actions are an attempt to bring peace and stability to the region after decades of imperialist plunder. The delusional response of Ukraine’s puppet government is a betrayal of their people and has caused yet untold death and destruction.

While we are a newly refounded party without major influence in the world, we stand in solidarity with those who understand that the current situation in Ukraine is the result of decades of imperialist aggression and political incompetence on the parts of NATO and the UN. Russia and Ukraine have been forced into this situation by the powers of global capital who now pretend this is something they didn’t see coming.

American roads and bridges are crumbling and people are facing skyrocketing costs with totally stagnant income levels, all during a pandemic which has disrupted life and permanently damaged hope for the future. In the US media, military operations in Ukraine are being portrayed as entertainment, like a Marvel movie, rather than with the nuance and historical context needed. CNN runs Applebee’s commercials over footage of missiles and tanks while cutting to footage of Joe Biden acting as though he just stepped into politics, and hasn’t been involved in the buildup of this moment since the beginning.

The people of America need to be exposed to the smelling salts of reality: we have been lied to and treated as children for decades. What we are currently witnessing is what Karl Marx referred to as late-stage capitalism. As profits shrink, the frustration and desperate actions of the ruling elite become more apparent. The same Nazis we defeated in WW2 are now touted as our allies, while Russia, which made great sacrifices to stop the horrors of fascism, is portrayed as our enemy. We’re told that oil and fracked gas is “clean and natural,” while we’re made to fear nuclear power sources capable of providing endless low-cost zero-emission energy for the world. What we’re seeing is the mask being pulled off of imperialism as capitalism grows so unsustainable that it begins to consume itself.

Americans must treat this moment of clarity as a gift and work with the world to unseat those who have brought humanity to this desperate place. We must not squander this opportunity to be on the right side of history.

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