• Doug Most

    Associate Vice President, Executive Editor, Editorial Department Twitter Profile

    Doug Most is a lifelong journalist and author whose career has spanned newspapers and magazines up and down the East Coast, with stops in Washington, D.C., South Carolina, New Jersey, and Boston. He was named Journalist of the Year while at The Record in Bergen County, N.J., for his coverage of a tragic story about two teens charged with killing their newborn. After a stint at Boston Magazine, he worked for more than a decade at the Boston Globe in various roles, including magazine editor and deputy managing editor/special projects. His 2014 nonfiction book, The Race Underground, tells the story of the birth of subways in America and was made into a PBS/American Experience documentary. He has a BA in political communication from George Washington University. Profile

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There are 9 comments on Comm Ave Starbucks Strike Ends: Does That Mean Strikes Work?

  1. Michel Anteby either has no idea what he’s talking about or he is just trying to regurgitate anti-union talking points. Workers at Starbucks went on strike because Starbucks refused to negotiate with them after they won their union election. Instead, the corporate sent in a new manager who was racist, homophobic and transphobic against their workers, and cut hours for all previous employees at the store below the benefits threshold for hours worked.

    Starbucks literally brought in Pinkerton goons and tried to break the picket line. The strikers were able to win because the community has their back, and helped them to maintain the picket line 24/7 for 2 months.

    Starbucks caved because the school year just started and they are missing too much profit from the Comm Ave location. When workers come together they have the power to shut down anything. Because none of us is “replaceable”, Michel.

    1. Valuable information. I don’t believe this was the right person to have interviewed about this topic. Would have been best to have interviewed a Starbucks employee who participated in the strike. Or even David Webber over at the law school.

  2. Interestingly, this article seems to want readers to believe that strikes don’t work (especially for “replaceable” employees) but ends with an admission that the Starbucks strike DID work. Why bury the lede this deep?

    1. I noticed that too. I’m curious now to know if the interviewer and interviewee are in favor of strikes and labor organizing broadly. By the way, for anyone interested in the history of worker strikes, “Strike!” by Jeremy Brecher comes highly recommended.

  3. I appreciated Professor Anteby’s opinion, but I disagree when he said “The question is how captive you are to your employees. The more captive [a company is] to employees, the more likely a strike will end up succeeding.” I believe employees are the true captives in this economic system. Employees should never be seen as potential captors of employers, rather as agents of their own future. I believe everyone would benefit from reading the work of Richard D Wolff and Trebor Scholz surrounding worker owned enterprises (aka worker co-ops) and how they are managed.

  4. The implication in this article that the Starbucks workers were striking because they felt entitled due to a “hero narrative” rather than because they were enduring abusive working conditions is truly disconcerting. Society treats people who work minimum wage or “service” jobs as disposable, and I’m horrified to see that sentiment echoed here. Treating people as less than because of the work they do needs to end yesterday; people deserve a healthy work environment no matter the job. Our society is able to function as it does due to the work we ALL do, and it’s about time we all got with the program.

  5. Can we consider why the PR arm of BU administration–BU Today–would find it beneficial to question the Starbucks Workers United strike’s effectiveness? If unions can return autonomy and material benefits (better pay, conditions, benefits) to workers–by giving them “a stronger voice,” as this article concedes–perhaps the BU administration would want to prevent that from happening, which might include using the symbolic power of messaging that questions the efficacy of strikes. How is this symbolic power intertwined with the economic power that BU administrators want to consolidate–while underpaying and undervaluing many of the employees that make BU run?

  6. Before liberal authors write an article on whether strikes work, I suggest they Google ‘Chicago 1864 labor movement’ and educate themselves. This article makes about five self-contradictory points.

  7. As a new student at BU, the labor unions, specifically the starbucks strike has really been the talk of the town. While students walk down com ave., it’s hard to miss the workers striking with signs and tents until late hours of the night. The world hasn’t seen that much worker revolution in many decades until now, after the pandemic where many businesses have had to shut down and workers have had to work overtime or find new ways for money while everyone was locked inside. Workers now are pressured to work crazy hours and intense labor in order to make up for all the damage the pandemic left. This excess work and extreme pushing causes emotional labor, which is basically putting up walls around one’s true feelings that day in order to get through something. While we do this everyday in some form or another, workers at restaurants and for big corporations such as Starbucks feel this labor. While this strike was the longest in Starbucks history with 64 days going by, it is important to recognize that the turmoil comes from a deep and internal place of exercising and exhausting emotional labor. It is also important to emphasize the specific ways in which emotional labor is present in their day to day work experience. To serve coffee efficiently, it is not required to be super amicable like most Starbucks employees are. They are pressured to exercise emotional labor while most servers at coffee shops and restaurants are as well. However, Starbucks is the most popular coffee shop in America and the employees are expected to always go a little bit above and beyond to ensure politeness to their customers. Within this and specifically within the Starbucks on BU’s campus, these workers are expected to make drinks and prepare food extremely fast while also being paid way too little for how much overall labor they are exercising. They are also being taken advantage of by their managers but they have to exercise emotional labor in order to hold their job and in front of customers. This realization of what emotional labor is and how it is all around us has made me wonder how much it occurs in other jobs and why now are people coming forward to realize they are being mistreated? Why as a world do we expect so much more of food industry workers and domestic labor workers? Why do we expect them to do their job in a way that is more than what they signed up for? Why can’t they do their jobs efficiently and effectively but not use so much of their energy to ensure happiness for the customer?

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