Starbucks Finally Recognizes MLK Day as Federal Holiday

NYC Industrial Workers of the World Jan 14, 2011

The NYC Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) will hold its 4th Annual MLK Day March Against Wage Slavery on Monday Jan. 17. This year’s march celebrates the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day where Starbucks has stopped treating Dr. King’s holiday as second-class to other federal holidays. The Seattle-based world’s largest coffee chain had previously denied Martin Luther King, Jr. Day equal treatment, stating that they were in line with fast-food industry standards all while shaping a public image of being the better employer. The Starbucks Corporation agreed to grant workers the holiday premium of time and a half pay for hours worked during the holiday in November after a three-year campaign of grassroots action by the IWW Starbucks Workers Union (SWU).

“It feels good to know that the efforts of our union, which Starbucks has spent nearly 7 years fighting against, has led to such an enormous amount of money going rightfully into the pockets of those making the drinks that make Starbucks its billions,” said union barista Liberte Locke who works at the Union Square East Starbucks.  The union gives a low estimate of around $1.2 million dollars being spent by the company on holiday pay for hourly wage earners in retail locations for this specific holiday.

Dr. King was an ardent supporter of labor rights who spoke often of the importance of unions and a worker’s right to a living wage. To honor Dr. King, and his vision of dignity and respect for all workers, as well as support Starbucks workers’ ongoing struggles, IWW members and supporters will meet in front of the Starbucks at 10 Union Sq. East at noon. The occasion will be marked by a sparkling cider victory toast, followed by speeches from current Starbucks baristas and music from the Rude Mechanical Orchestra marching band. The event will culminate with a victory march around Union Square.

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is a grassroots organization composed entirely of current and former Starbucks employees who have fought for respect, security, affordable health care and a living wage since 2004. Working together SWU members have improved working conditions for Starbucks employees and won legal victories against unfair labor practices.

Founded in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World is a dynamic and member-driven union committed to workplace democracy and global solidarity.

For more information about the MLK Day March Against Wage Slavery, visit

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