Despite the company’s progressive branding, management has been quick to call in law enforcement to retaliate against workers fighting for a union.

By Saurav Sarkar, The Progressive Magazine

At midnight on August 8, the Boston Police Department received an anonymous call telling them to show up to a Starbucks on strike on the Boston University campus around 5:15 a.m., says Spencer Costigan, a shift manager at the store. After arriving, the officers observed a group of strikebreakers carrying away furniture that the Starbucks workers and supporters had been using to maintain a 24/7 picket line without interfering. The police cruiser then stayed for hours and the officers inside refused to disclose who had called them there.

Starbucks protestors hold pro-union signs

In the nine weeks that the store’s staff were on strike at 874 Commonwealth Avenue, a police cruiser frequently parked outside the picket line for hours; baristas at the store were told that this was standard procedure during a strike. On at least three occasions, according to the striking workers, a prisoner transport van was also parked at the site. Most recently, the workers tweeted that police “harassed and filmed picketers, refused to show their badges,” and misled participants about the law after Starbucks evicted the workers from the property with the threat of trespassing charges.

The marriage of corporate interests and law enforcement is well-known, and not a surprise to many Starbucks workers working to organize a union. “The cops don’t work to enact real justice or to protect people, they exist to protect capital, and they exist to make sure that rich people can force us to go back to work if we get fed up,” says Costigan.

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