The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

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Boycotting Starbucks: A Student Worker’s Perspective

Boycotting+Starbucks%3A+A+Student+Worker%E2%80%99s+Perspective

On October 9th, Starbucks Workers United posted “Solidarity with Palestine!” on X, formerly Twitter. They were met with outrage, support, and a lawsuit. 

Though the union’s post may have felt poorly timed, being 2 days after Hamas’s attack on Israel, the company took extreme action; they sued for copyright infringement, claiming that the post had damaged Starbucks’ reputation due to the union’s usage of an image similar to the Starbucks logo. Indeed, the post had generated dissent from those confusing the union with the corporation: Florida Senator Rick Scott called for a boycott, claiming that supporting Starbucks was “supporting killing Jews.” Ironically, after Starbucks made a statement expressing that they “disagree with the statements and views expressed by Workers United and its members,” the climate has shifted; boycotts are now being called for in support of Palestine. 

To be exceptionally clear: Starbucks is not funding Israel or the conflict in Gaza in any way. Purchasing a beverage is not contributing to the deaths of innocent children, as social media comments have claimed under videos of moms and their children enjoying cake pops. However, from a political perspective, boycotting Starbucks is certainly not a fruitless endeavor for anti-corporation idealists and union supporters. 

Starbucks Workers United, the workers’ union for Starbucks employees, is no stranger to pushback from the Starbucks Corporation. When stores began to rapidly unionize in late 2022, calling for better wages and benefits, Starbucks responded swiftly by firing union participants — though they maintain that the employees were fired for other violations of company rules. And more recently, when Starbucks Workers United made a statement supporting Palestine, Starbucks Corporation responded with a lawsuit. It doesn’t feel like a stretch to suggest that, perhaps, Starbucks’ motivations were more anti-union than anti-Palestine — and union participants think so, too. Writing to Starbucks Corporation, President Lynne Fox of Workers United stated that “Starbucks is seeking to exploit the ongoing tragedy in the Middle East to bolster the company’s anti-union campaign,” and noted that the union’s X page was clearly not under Starbucks name or image, as the company claimed. 

Though this boycott has been framed as a way to support Palestine — which it is now, from a social standpoint — boycotting Starbucks is mostly supporting the union. Starbucks’s statement was bad PR; the company wished to appear neutral, but insinuated they were pro-Israel by saying that they “disagreed” with the statement. With the majority of Americans now supporting a ceasefire, this puts the corporation on shaky ground. But whether you choose to boycott Starbucks in support of Palestine or the unions — or not — it could be having an effect. At my store, Red Cup Day, which is usually one of Starbucks’ highest-grossing events besides seasonal launches, saw only half of our projected profits. That’s not to say that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the only factor — retail sales have dropped by 0.1% since September, according to Forbes. But, Starbucks’ drop in sales is definitely a reason to not let anyone tell you that the boycotts don’t work — even if it wasn’t clear what the boycott was supporting.

But also, don’t let anyone tell you that getting a cake pop is actively supporting a genocide. 

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Ava Martin, Editor in Chief

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