Monday, May 18, 2009


The following from the A-Infos website puzzled Molly when she went on her usual attribution search (something usually-and especially in one case, almost as a matter of policy- ignored by anarchist websites). The action was apparently undertaken by the AIT associated Union of Syndicalists. For more English language reports of anti-Starbucks actions in Poland see the English language blog of the non-AIT Workers' Initiative-Warsaw. The report is from an independent anarchist news website in Wroclaw Poland, the Wroclawska Sekcji Alternatiwna. I was, however, unable to find any English language material on this subject there. The AIT-associated Polish anarchosyndicalist organization is the Union of Syndicalists. The non-AIT site of the Workers' Initiative also reports ant-Starbucks action. For what it is worth I am willing to venture the opinion that Poland is the only country in the world where, when there are AIT and non-AIT unions present, that the AIT one is more active, larger and more dynamic. I may be wrong. I don't make a pretense of being able to read Polish. The general Polish anarchist news site referred to below is the Centrum Informacji Anarchistcznej. All told very confusing. What I am not confused about is the IWW's Starbucks Union, that has been organizing for some years now.


Poland, Starbucks Pickets organized by ZSP*:
Today there were two pickets at Starbucks Coffee in Poland - one in Warsaw and one in Wroclaw, the two cities where Starbucks opened their first cafes in Poland last month. May 17 is the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Starbucks workers union, which we spoke about at the pickets.
---- The pickets were organized by ZSP* as solidarity campaigns but also to raise awareness about working conditions in the cafe/restaurant industry and to encourage workers to organize. ---- Some photos of the picket in Wroclaw can be found here:
---- Texts of the Wroclaw leaflet (in Polish) are here Two weeks ago a picket was held in Warsaw, as well as today.
Today's picket also included information about what is going on along "Nowy Swiat" (New World) Street in Warsaw where Starbucks is located. Almost all of the well-known cafes along the street have closed down due to astronomical rents, leaving room only for corporate chains, ultra-exclusive places and money laundering fronts. We just found out that the last of the famous cafes on the street. Cafe Bajka which has been there for 53 years and was the last place on the street where you could get a cheap drink and a meal, is being forced to close since their rent was raised to an astronomical 20,000 zloties a month. (It's a small place, so it's really amazingly high rent.) We could see on the street that other cafes and small shops have closed up and in their place we will have Subway and Haagen Daaz. The price of coffee in Starbucks is similar to in the US, despite the fact that average wages are many times higher. This makes brands like these clearly brands for yuppies (and tourists) who are in the elite. Seeing what is going on with the rapid influx of corporate chain stores along New World St., we renamed it "Brave New World" St.
We have also noticed that Starbucks in Poland has started an extensive greenwashing campaign, which an average consumer might misunderstand and believe the prices are high because they are buying fair trade coffee. Only about 5% of Starbucks coffee is fair trade but they are presenting themselves as the most "ethical" coffee in town
* An antiauthoritarian anticapitalist syndicate(A Molly sidenote- I really wish that people wouldn't use this rhetoric, ie "antiauthoritarian anticapitalist" to describe themselves. I've seen this two word modifier stuck in front of many nouns such as "initiative", "network" and "project", amongst others in the past few years, and it continues to grate on my nerves. To me it looks like it is usually a "weasel word", used to avoid the use of the dreaded word "anarchist". If it is not such an euphemism then it may even worse. It may refer to a mindset of "fashionable leftism" that has absorbed enough anti this that and the other thing to qualify as a separate political ideology, a closed in group ideology of fashion. If people really do want a modifier then the adjective "libertarian", as in "libertarian socialism" is more than sufficient in any country in the world outside of the USA where "libertarian" has another unfortunate meaning. I have a sneaking suspicion, though I cannot prove it, that this clumsy two word adjective "antiauthoritarian anticapitalist" is of Canadian origin, and that it was coined basically to avoid matters of "consistency" that would be raised if one used the word "anarchist". If this is true then it would be one more example of our "colonial mentality" in that we have to coin a term for politics that have been borrowed from the USA where we Canadians can recognize the difference from anarchism per se and think we have to rename it. (But this, of course, is an entirely different subject from the news above. Sorry for the diversion)

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