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Starbucks faces union retaliation for store closure



After workers at a Starbucks store in Ithaca, New York, went on strike last April, a communications specialist from public relations firm Edelman sent out a “real-time alert” by email to Starbucks corporate officials.

“Note about article from The Ithacan discussing the Cornell University Starbucks strike,” wrote the specialist. “Partners have gone on strike over repeated spills of grease traps, resulting in an unsafe environment and inaction on the part of management.”

The story rekindled a discussion among Starbucks management about what to do with the store. The regional director recommended closing because “the space doesn’t meet the needs of our partners or the brand,” but she also noted that they are looking into refurbishment.

Two months later, Starbucks closed the store permanently, prompting workers and federal enforcers to accuse the company of retaliation. Workers recently voted 19-1 in favor of joining Workers United, making it one of 300 Starbucks corporate stores across the country that have been established since late 2021.

The emails that Starbucks disclosed in a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) lawsuit shed light on Starbucks management’s thoughts leading up to the closure. The store was in a great location with great sales potential, but had serious service problems, the main one being an overflowing grease trap.

In June, Denise Nelsen, senior vice president of US operations, emailed Rossanne Williams, then head of Starbucks’ business in North America, about a debate about whether the store should close permanently or refurbish it.

“We need to resolve these conditions issues because we also continue to receive information about the state of the store,” Nelsen wrote.

Kolya Witek, a barista who worked at the College Avenue establishment, argued that the strike’s unwanted attention prompted Starbucks to close the store for good.

“It was retaliation for the strike we went on because we were forced to work in unsafe conditions,” said Vitek, who now works at another Starbucks store in Ithaca. “They didn’t care [before]. Now that we’re making national news, they suddenly feel uneasy.”

“We need to address these conditions issues because we also continue to receive information about the state of the store.”

— Starbucks spokesperson Denise Nelsen in an email to colleagues.

Starbucks insists it closed the cafe for legitimate business reasons, saying its concerns about the store date back to the previous year. The company also denied that the negative press played any role in the call.

“The media attention did not affect our decision to close the store,” company spokesman Andrew Trull told HuffPost.

It would be illegal for a company to close an individual workplace because of union activity. The General Counsel of the NLRB considered the union’s claims in Ithaca to be justified and filed a lawsuit. sweeping complaint against the company in November last year.

On June 3, 2022, Starbucks told workers that the College Avenue store would be closed permanently, according to the union. But Starbucks emails suggest the company still hadn’t decided what to do with the cafe at the time, in part because the location was so secure.

A memo on the store’s situation stated that it had “the strongest real estate position in the area” and “any move would be worse.” Operations team members recommended a permanent closure, while the “real estate recommendation” for the store was to “close, reinvest and reopen”.

The former Starbucks CEO ran tests on Capitol Hill last month. The union accused the company of closing more than two stores in retaliation.

Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

Days after workers were told the store was closing for good, company officials were still debating whether they should rehabilitate it and reopen it.

“It’s getting dark, this is our last desperate attempt to get [landlord] to solve these problems,” Nelsen wrote to Williams.

Noting the media attention to the store, Nelsen added, “If we can’t get him to respond to this message and cooperate, we will need to discuss a permanent closure.”

Michael Dolce, a lawyer for the union, said the emails show Starbucks hasn’t been honest with store employees. He noted that on the same day that Nelsen and Williams were discussing the store’s possibilities, a Starbucks lawyer sent workers a list of reasons they were closing it for good, including a problematic fat trap.

“At the negotiating table, they told the union they were closing the store for good,” Dolce said. “The plan was No permanently close the store; it was for exploring options.”

Dolce claimed that the negative publicity generated by the strike prompted Starbucks to hurry up and close the store, even as he was still assessing what to do.

Another Starbucks email says the original plan to close was to keep the cafe open until June, but the operating team pushed back the closing date by almost three weeks.

Starbucks says it still considered the closure “permanent” because it could not restore the cafe in a matter of weeks. Instead, it would take one to two years and cost $700,000.

Asked why the company told workers that the store would be closed permanently when repairs were pending, Nelsen said during a labor council lawsuit that the store’s “depth of problems” makes the timing of reopening uncertain.

“Our timeline for something new — like opening a brand new store — is a year,” she said. “So we are literally talking about something that takes so long. Like, yes, it will be treated as a permanent closure.”

Williams played a leading role in the company’s efforts to contain unionism. before leaving Starbucks last June. While in Seattle, the executive visited and worked in stores in the Buffalo area, where the campaign began when workers were considering unionizing – the presence of some workers was deemed close. The emails suggest that Williams received details of the union’s progress.

“It was retaliation for the strike we went on because we were forced to work in unsafe conditions.”

– Starbucks employee Kolya Vitek

In a June 2022 email, the regional COO sent an email to Williams with a “Buffalo CV” calling Ithaca a “hot spot” for union activity that “continues to have Buffalo union organizers”.

She also told Williams about the upcoming union elections. She said the company planned to challenge the store’s recent vote because four employees apparently did not receive ballots. The Union won this vote 7-4.

“These four partners are believed to have no votes,” she wrote. (The challenge eventually failed.)

The College Avenue store is one of 25 stores the union says Starbucks has closed either permanently or temporarily to disrupt the union’s campaign. Union members argue that the Starbucks closure serves two purposes: to disrupt and disperse the core of union support—perhaps provoking the layoffs of baristas who couldn’t or didn’t want to work elsewhere—and to make workers think twice before trying to organize.

Starbucks says it hasn’t closed any stores in retaliation for union activity. But an ALJ has already ruled that Starbucks is illegal. closed the shop who organized into unions, considering the reasons for closing the company “clearly a pretext.” The NLRB General Counsel has not yet announced whether the union’s allegations of nearly two dozen other closures have merit.

After Starbucks announced it was closing the Ithaca store, workers began what it called “bargaining” with the company to discuss their rights during the closure. The workers were offered jobs in other stores. Witek said they pushed for a severance pay for workers who would not take other positions, but the company was strongly against it.

Evan Sunshine, the Ithaca barista who led the bidding, said he didn’t expect Starbucks to close the store for good. He believed that the grease trap was a serious problem and that the company could close the store for a while to fix it, but eventually the workers would be able to return to the same store.

Sunshine said they were raising money to help cover the wages of workers affected by the shutdown.

“We didn’t hit our targets every week,” he said.

Ultimately, according to Sunshine, the closure of the College Avenue store had a major impact on the workforce and organizing campaign in the city. When elections took place in April 2022, the store had 27 employees. Starbucks said that after the closure, fourteen employees agreed to work in other stores, while the rest refused. The vast majority have since left the company.

“Two of the 27 still work at Starbucks,” Sunshine said, referring to himself and Vitek.


CNN’s Donald Trump Forum was a preview of future political coverage



David Zaslav, chief executive of CNN’s parent company, recently defended the network’s decision to host a live meeting with former President Donald Trump, calling the event “important for America.”

And so it turned out, but perhaps not for the reasons that Mr. Zaslav assumed.

In an uplifting and at times confusing broadcast Wednesday night, Mr. Trump, appearing on CNN for the first time since 2016, unleashed a barrage of lies, sometimes too quickly for his interlocutor, host Caitlan Collins, to intervene.

Time and time again, Mr. Trump has falsely claimed that the 2020 election was rigged. He called E. Jean Carroll a “fool” and attacked her in misogynistic terms. He defended the Capitol rioters on January 6th.

Ms. Collins, calm in the face of Trump’s outrage, interrupted, interceded, corrected and accused the former president of his lies. He often responded by speaking directly over her. When Mr. Trump finally lost his temper and ridiculed Ms. Collins as “an unpleasant person,” some in the lively audience applauded.

It was a preview of what American journalism can expect from the 2024 campaign featuring Mr. Trump, who despite his omnipresence in political life has rarely appeared on mainstream TV outside of Fox News since leaving office.

If the 2016 campaign showed that many Americans can’t agree on common facts, the babylonian nature of New Hampshire City Hall on Wednesday suggests that voters now occupy vastly different universes. Mr. Trump repeated a web of conspiracies about the stolen election and the “beautiful day” of the Capitol riot, language that likely baffled viewers and resonated with the rest as gospel.

“The election was not rigged, Mr. President,” Ms. Collins said at one point. You can’t repeat this all night. (He kept saying this.)

Ms. Collins, a rising CNN star who is considered prominent on the network at 9:00 pm, was a lucky choice as moderator. She has been covering for Mr Trump for years, knows his idiosyncrasies and was not reported when Mr Trump tried to intimidate her.

Even Mr. Trump looked stunned when Ms. Collins asked succinctly, “Do you want Ukraine to win this war?” (He didn’t give a direct answer.) She ruthlessly insisted on whether he would sign the federal abortion ban, pointing out, “You didn’t say yes or no.” (Again, Mr. Trump wouldn’t say.)

However, Miss Collins could only do what was the only journalist on the scene. It soon became apparent that the independent Republican and Republican crowd was deeply skeptical of their efforts to rein in Mr. Trump. The format of the town hall, when the former president taunted Ms. Collins, much applause could be heard, made it even more difficult for her to complete her task. (CNN said it assembled the audience after consulting with community groups, faith-based organizations, local Republicans and St. Anselm’s student government.)

When the broadcast ended – after Mr. Trump briefly shook hands with Ms. Collins and said, “Good job,” the cameras switched to a group of unusually subdued CNN analysts.

“We don’t have enough time to check every lie he told,” host Jake Tupper said. Some CNN critics said the same before and again after Wednesday’s broadcast: It was reckless to allow Mr. Trump to speak to millions of people live in prime time.

Mr. Trump’s penchant for spreading lies is well known. Even Fox News, which provided former president-friendly forums with conservative stars like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, didn’t host Mr. Trump live for months.

He is also the de facto leader of the Republican Party, which means his remarks are inherently worthy of the attention of voters on the cusp of a new presidential campaign. CNN said in a statement late Wednesday that its town hall reflects the network’s “role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powers that be accountable.”

Producers and journalists from other major networks watched CNN on Wednesday with curiosity, skepticism, and perhaps a little trepidation.

If Mr. Trump remains the leading Republican nominee, he will be on their airwaves soon enough.

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Ukraine needs more than $30 billion worth of arsenal to counterattack Russia



Mark Champion

Armed with more than $30 billion worth of recently supplied weapons by allies, Ukraine is preparing for a counteroffensive that could bring Russia closer to ending the war or show that neither side has enough firepower to gain the upper hand.

Kiev forces will use the equipment — supplies delivered since December that cost more than any NATO member other than the US buys in a year — to try to take over entrenched Russian positions and reclaim occupied territory. The question is, is it enough?

A dramatic breakthrough similar to last year’s Ukraine offensive on Kharkiv could help bring an early end to an invasion that disrupted energy and grain markets, fueling cost-of-living crises around the world.

This time around, however, the critical element of surprise may prove harder to achieve against a larger and better-trained Russian army. And to succeed, Ukraine will need to conduct a complex so-called combined arms operation without the advantage of air superiority, for which few military personnel in the world are trained.

This means coordinating infantry, armored vehicles, sappers and air defense to maximize the impact of the more than 200 tanks, 300 infantry fighting vehicles and other weapons that Ukraine has received since December.

The Ukrainian command downplayed expectations and repeatedly called for an increase in the number of weapons, including air defense systems and long-range missiles.

“No army thinks it’s well equipped to do what it’s supposed to do,” said Mark Kanchian, a former US Marine colonel who now advises the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “That’s the nature of the armed forces.”

In a speech accompanying the shortened VE-Day parades marking the end of World War II on Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin again vowed to win the “real war” he falsely claims the West is waging against Russia. Although his invasion did not go according to plan, and the winter offensive did not produce the desired results, he still promises victory.

According to military analysts, further developments for Ukraine will depend on factors that go far beyond equipment and include training, intelligence and the ability to continue to block Russia’s superior air force.

If Ukraine manages to make only marginal gains, like those Russian forces have deployed around the eastern Donbas town of Bakhmut, it could lead to another winter stalemate and more pressure on Kiev to back out of seizing the captured territory as part of a ceasefire agreement.

At least in public, Ukraine’s allies are betting on a breakthrough. “I am confident that they will be successful in reclaiming most of their territory,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said last week.

Breaking through the layered Russian defense will definitely require special engineering equipment for demining, overcoming trenches and destroying dugouts, sent by the allies. So are the hundreds of trucks and transporters needed to get the heavy armor into position faster than Russia can react.

In February, Norway donated four bridge layers. As recently as May 3, the US agreed to send another $300 million weapons package, including additional demolition munitions, trucks, trailers, and diagnostic equipment for repairs, in addition to new artillery shells, howitzers, and GPS-guided HIMARS medium-range missiles. .

“Joint arms are the Formula 1 of military operations,” said Franz-Stefan Gady, senior fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The modern concept of combined arms troops originated during World War I, when commanders used combinations of crawling artillery support, air support, tanks, and infantry to break the stalemate of trench warfare.

It was later improved during World War II, and at the height of the Cold War, NATO military forces regularly held major combined arms exercises. However, this know-how atrophied after the Soviet threat disappeared, as became clear during Moscow’s failed assault on Kyiv at the beginning of the war.

According to Gady, the US is probably the only Western force currently equipped and trained to conduct combined arms operations on the scale Ukraine will need. Washington provides training and technology to Ukrainian forces.

To that end, a less visible item that may prove valuable is what the Pentagon describes as “equipment for integrating Western air defense launchers, missiles and radars with Ukrainian air defense systems.” Germany put something similar.

Although the exact American system has not been named, it is likely to be much more advanced than the Soviet-era Ukrainian version, allowing it to connect sensors and air defense systems it receives from the US and Europe, target faster, and exploit dwindling surfaces. Ammunition for anti-aircraft missiles is more effective.

It could also help Ukraine’s aging warplanes protect the ground forces from Russia’s much larger and more advanced air force, which can strike from outside the range of Ukraine’s air defense system.

This is important because, having played a relatively minor role throughout most of the war, Russian aircraft “are starting to test new weapons and increase the number of operations, while Ukrainian air defense is starting to have problems. said Gustav Gressel, a former officer in the Austrian Ministry of Defense and now a senior fellow at the Brussels-based European Council on Foreign Relations.

There are fears in Ukraine and beyond that vital air defense systems, in particular the Soviet medium-range BUKs needed to protect the ground forces, are running out of missiles. Ukrainian leaders are also calling for advanced aircraft and long-range surface-to-surface missiles, which Washington is not yet willing to supply.

The question also remains unanswered as to whether the Russians have enough troops to bolster the defenses they dug in the winter in occupied southern Ukraine. If they don’t, they’ll have to guess where the Ukrainians will attack, giving Kyiv an opportunity to surprise and outflank them.

If they do, Ukrainian forces could struggle to break through, as they did last year against the defense in depth in Kherson. Only fierce fighting and disrupted supply lines across the massive Dnepr River forced an eventual retreat.

The number of troops and equipment could become critical if Ukraine manages to break through the front line, since reserves will be needed to break through any gaps.

With some 700,000 uniformed soldiers, Ukraine has armed three new brigades with NATO premium tanks, as well as Bradleys and other infantry fighting vehicles, Grassel said. Another six units, numbering some 5,000 soldiers, are armed with Soviet-era equipment donated by former Warsaw Pact members to NATO to make up for losses from a year of fighting.

Donations have nearly drained many of Europe’s militaries as they struggled to secure what has become the continent’s biggest conflict since World War II. The need for high-intensity artillery remained in question.

“This is a lot, but there is a difference in size, in particular, between the Ukrainian and European armed forces,” he said. “Numbers that are really large for most European armies are actually very small for the Ukrainian one.”

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How to disagree productively



Disagreements don’t have to be destructive. They can be an opportunity to come up with better ideas. But having a conversation with a person with a conflicting point of view is far from easy. Three strategies that the authors identified in their study can help.

From whether hybrid work should be used to the introduction of quotas for women or minorities at various levels in the organization, senior management teams across the companies we consult have debated controversial issues. In many of these discussions, the leaders often got into heated arguments with each other that were not as productive. As a result, they left the meetings hurt and dissatisfied.

Disagreements with people whose opinions or ideas differ from ours are common in the workplace. Disagreement leads to better results when done right, but it’s not usually treated that way. In a recent unpublished survey we conducted among more than 500 executives from various organizations, “fight” was the noun they most often associated with conflict at work. The most common adjective was “dysfunctional”. Although people constantly face disagreements, they (and their interlocutors) tend to fail to communicate effectively, fueling conflicts and damaging their relationships.

It shouldn’t be like this. our new study, with more than 2,000 people in numerous studies, offers several ideas that high-level executives — and all of us — can use to better disagree on and off the job. Here are three strategies to use.

1. Focus on what you need to learn.

People regularly get into arguments to prove their point and convince the other side. They want to show them that they are right and others are wrong and are ready to fight. While this is a common approach, it doesn’t give the results people are hoping for.

When people approach conflicts with a willingness to learn, they do better. In one study, we showed study participants information about two possible interlocutors, both of whom disagreed with the participant’s point of view on a current topic (namely, the priority of hiring women in STEM fields). We told some participants that their interlocutor wanted to convince them. We told others that their interlocutor wanted to learn from them.

The majority of participants (78% of them) reported that they would rather communicate with a partner who was willing to learn about their views, even if they disagreed on the matter to the same extent. While it may not come as a surprise, many people don’t take this approach.

2. Don’t underestimate the interest of others in learning from you.

How people experience conflict and how it ultimately unfolds is highly dependent on their perception of the other party’s thoughts and feelings. You can enter into a conversation feeling inquisitive and humble, but still walk away in anger if you don’t feel like your opponent reciprocates. After all, it takes two to tango. The problem is that people tend to misinterpret the intentions of those they disagree with.

In one study, we asked 600 participants to write down the goals they were pursuing when talking to someone with opposing views on a problem, as well as the goals they thought their interlocutors were pursuing. Our participants had little faith in their colleagues’ desire to explore and understand their points of view. Indeed, only 16% of the goals that participants listed for disagreeing with others referred to a desire to learn, while 71% described the intention to persuade. (The remaining 13% did not fit into any of the categories.)

In contrast, people were much more generous in their intentions: 42% of self-reported goals mentioned wanting to know their point of view, and 39% focused on persuading a colleague. (Twenty percent mentioned neither.) This tendency to underestimate the willingness of dissenting colleagues to learn about opposing views is shown when people consider conversations about politics or their favorite sports teams, suggesting that the pattern extends to different areas.

In the course of our research, we consistently find that most people state that they are more likely than their interlocutors to learn about the opposite point of view of the other side during a conflict conversation. This difference persisted even after people had a 10-minute conversation with someone they disagreed with about the 2020 US presidential election. In other words, the act of actually talking to the person on the other side did not convince people of the readiness of their interlocutors to learn about their views.

However, we saw a glimmer of hope. People who truly believed that their interlocutor intended to get their point of view during the conversation enjoyed the interaction more and judged their partner more positively. Although they were on opposite sides of the hard-fought 2020 US presidential election, simply believing that the other person wanted to learn from them led participants to view their counterparts as more moral, objective, intelligent, likeable, and trustworthy. In fact, beliefs about their partner’s willingness to learn from them were the most important predictor of conflict outcome, including valuing their partner and enjoying the interaction. Critically, these beliefs were a stronger predictor of outcomes than their interlocutor’s actual (self-reported) willingness to learn about the other’s views.

3. Don’t hide your intentions.

Considering that your opponent is likely to underestimate your willingness to learn about them, you should be more direct and unambiguous in your intentions. In our research, we found that just a couple of sentences is enough to clearly and effectively convey your intention to get the other person’s point of view.

For example, before making an argument, you might say, “This is an important topic. I’m curious to hear what people who disagree with me think about this.” You could then end your argument by saying, “I understand that not everyone sees this the same way, and I would like to better understand where other people are coming from.”

We all want to be heard and understood, especially during times of disagreement that can have important implications for our lives at work. However, we enter into conflict, expecting to be bombarded with a monologue about why our deepest beliefs are wrong. Look for negative expectations, which in turn shape our behavior and ultimately our experience. Our research suggests that the cure is to focus on what you can do to change your opponent’s perceptions of you by exhibiting exactly the behavior you hope to evoke.

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