KIRO NIGHTS

Stine: You want a union? Start your own business

Mar 23, 2022, 2:42 PM | Updated: Mar 24, 2022, 6:48 am
union...
A sign in the window of a Starbucks coffee shop makes customers aware of adjusted hours at one of the chain's coffee shops. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Seattle’s makeup of union members will soon include baristas. This week, a Starbucks store on Capitol Hill voted to join a service workers’ union, with labor negotiations on the way.

Unions can be very beneficial for laborers. Tradespeople need to ensure that they have safe working conditions. Those positions are often held for life. They’re careers.

A Starbucks union is different. You don’t want to be working at Starbucks for the entirety of your life.

I’ll dip into the old history textbook for this one. In the Soviet Union, they had this theory about politics: that you would work and be happy. You would be OK with limiting your horizons, your career options. If you were in a factory line assembling shoes, you would get joy from manufacturing.

They thought that you were contributing to the collective as a whole. The idea of advancement was a crazy, capitalist, Western idea.

My concern is, when we look at labor unions like Starbucks who are arguing for higher wages, you are psychologically priming people for mediocrity.

I am not saying that being a barista is mediocrity. What I’m saying is that you have to advance in your life. There are other things besides being a barista to which someone can aspire.

Now, do I think that these people deserve a livable wage? Absolutely. But this idea that you’re going to force a company through collective action to give that to you, so you can continue to be a barista, keeps you at the bottom of the chain.

Seattle Starbucks location votes to become first on West Coast to unionize

One of the problems with this is that you are effectively coddling these people into maintaining that position in life.

I would love to see these baristas who enjoy their work start their own businesses. Go out and start a co-op coffee shop. Collectively bargain there.

Do better for yourself than ask a company to capitulate to your demands. Don’t be mediocre.

Do you want to work in coffee for the rest of your life? That’s wonderful. You make it happen for yourself, and you take that energy into your own enterprise.

That is the most based a human being could be in the free market. Start your own co-op, and then you can rip on Starbucks all day long for their lack of labor regulations. Don’t force them to do so with petulance.

In the coming months, as the Denny and Broadway Starbucks collectively bargains, and their demands are inevitably not met, what happens? They strike.

You’re talking about potentially shutting down a bunch of Starbucks locations, even if the majority of people actually want to go to work. You have to fall in line, and then you’re out of a wage.

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Stine: You want a union? Start your own business