Starbucks Is Exploiting the Violence in Gaza and Israel to Attack Its Union

My grandmother and aunt were murdered at Treblinka, one of the deadliest Nazi concentration camps. Six months before liberation, my grandfather died in Nordhausen. 

My father, John, spent seven years between the ages of 11 and 17 in nine different concentration camps. Czech partisans rescued him and his brother, Harry, from a forced march, during which my father had become gravely ill.

After the war ended in 1945, my dad landed in Windermere outside of London and was taught to socialize and eat with a knife and fork. He learned to be a tailor. He met my mother.

They moved to the United States seeking a better life, and he started working and soon became a member of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. He taught his kids that unions were a cornerstone of any democracy. And he spoke every chance he could get about surviving the Holocaust. ​“Never forget” what happened to us, he would say.

His children learned that lesson. We’ve lived our lives with those two words in our hearts, always. Never forget.

My grandmother and aunt were murdered at Treblinka, one of the deadliest Nazi concentration camps. Six months before liberation, my grandfather died in Nordhausen. 

My father, John, spent seven years between the ages of 11 and 17 in nine different concentration camps. Czech partisans rescued him and his brother, Harry, from a forced march, during which my father had become gravely ill. After the war ended in 1945, my dad landed in Windermere outside of London and was taught to socialize and eat with a knife and fork. He learned to be a tailor. He met my mother.

They moved to the United States seeking a better life, and he started working and soon became a member of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

He taught his kids that unions were a cornerstone of any democracy. And he spoke every chance he could get about surviving the Holocaust. ​“Never forget” what happened to us, he would say.

His children learned that lesson. We’ve lived our lives with those two words in our hearts, always. Never forget.

The company is using that one tweet to, over and over again, falsely paint Workers United, whose forerunners — the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union — were founded by Jewish immigrants who welcomed workers of every race, religion and ethnicity as unhinged supporters of terrorism.

Like the Starbucks workers who are building their union, the ILGWU was founded at the turn of the last century by mostly young workers. Many in the labor movement at the time thought that because they were mainly young women, they were un-organizable, as some today think of baristas and other food service workers.

Never mind the facts. Starbucks saw an opportunity to capitalize on the horrific and tragic events in the Middle East to further its unprecedented, illegal union busting campaign, trying to bully workers into abandoning their union name and logo via a cease and desist letter and federal lawsuit.

This is a segment of a blog that originally appeared in full at In These Times on October 20, 2023. Republished with permission.

About the Author: Lynne Fox is president of Workers United and president of the Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.