Members of Teamsters 117 conducted a hand billing action at Starbucks corporate headquarters in Seattle today, demanding that the company hold its food supplier Taylor Farms accountable for human rights violations at its Tracy, Calif. plant. 

View photos from today's action here.

Passing out leaflets that read “Starbucks: Silence Equals Abuse”, members of the Teamsters along with Pride at Work and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO called out Starbucks for its hypocrisy and its support of a food supplier with a terrible safety and health record.

A delegation of union supporters attempted to meet with Starbucks management to discuss the violations at Taylor Farms, but Starbucks refused to meet with the group.

“Starbucks has long maintained that it is a corporation committed to equality,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 117. “If that is the case, why do they purchase food from a company that allows LGBT workers to be physically assaulted and harassed at work? Money is the most powerful thing in business and if Starbucks has any integrity, they would invest in food suppliers that have basic standards for human decency.”

The Teamsters have been attempting to organize food processing workers at Taylor Farms to improve unsafe working conditions and put an end to the company’s abuse of its workers’ rights. The union is also demanding an end to repeated harassment and abuse of LGBT workers at Taylor Farms.

"I’m glad the Teamsters have brought attention to the issue in labor community here,” said Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “Starbucks’ complacency in the face of hate crimes against LGBT workers from one of their suppliers is cowardly and deplorable. The Seattle labor movement proudly backs our brothers and sisters in California fighting for safe working conditions and a union. We will be educating all our affiliates about this, beginning at tonight’s monthly Delegates meeting." 

“There’s no excuse for silence,” Scearcy added. “Starbucks needs to either tell Taylor Farms to allow their workers to form a union in order to resolve this litany of issues, or drop them as a supplier. We will continue to protest until this happens.”