Cut the Contract

Jennifer Mnookin, UW Madison Chancellor

Starbucks workers across the country have been organizing into the Starbucks Workers United union, at more than 340 stores representing over 9,000 workers. During this organizing, the Starbucks corporation has been diligently union-busting to suppress these organizing efforts, and has been found guilty of more than 280 federal labor law violations, including unlawful firings, store closings, restrictions of benefits and pay raises to union workers and more. Complaints alleging 1,200 more specific violations are pending.

We want our campus to support organized labor and not reward Starbucks with licensed locations where workers can't organize.

To: Jennifer Mnookin, UW Madison Chancellor
From: [Your Name]

Dear Dr. Jennifer L. Mnookin,
As students, staff, and faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we are deeply concerned with our campus’s relationship with the Starbucks Corporation, which has engaged in a scorched-earth union-busting campaign against its workers over the past two years.
We’re asking you, as the ultimate decision-maker at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to end our University’s purchasing of Starbucks Corporation products, including via its Licensing Agreement with the Starbucks Corporation itself. The purchasing power of our University is significant, and we believe that you should support Starbucks workers by redirecting that purchasing power to alternative suppliers until Starbucks complies with federal labor law and bargains in good faith with unionized stores. Choosing to support a local supplier with a strong labor track record would also demonstrate your commitment to sustainable and ethical relationships.
Affirming your support of these workers is a national and local issue. Starbucks workers have won over 350 union elections across 41 states since December of 2021, including here in Wisconsin, where workers’ rights are particularly limited. Two of these unionized stores are adjacent to campus, employing and serving the student body, staff, and faculty.
On October 13th, 2023, the Starbucks Corporation filed a lawsuit against Workers United for their use of Starbucks intellectual property in the wake of the union’s statement, “Solidarity with Palestine.” Starbucks has subsequently characterized the union as pro-terrorism in defamatory statements. We affirm the union’s statement, alongside its further comment “strongly condemning anti-Semitism, Islamophobia & hate in all forms,” and believe it is in the interest of workers everywhere to oppose oppressive systems.
Although the University of Wisconsin-Madison claims to be driven by the Wisconsin Idea, especially through its commitment to the community, the University’s contracts with companies like Starbucks do not reflect this sentiment. To stay true to our shared mission, we need to send a clear message to Starbucks that its anti-worker actions are unacceptable.
Our campus is powered by workers. In the face of state-level attacks against organized labor, we believe fiercely in a worker’s fundamental right to form a union in order to have a voice in their workplace, and we believe that companies found to have violated workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain should face consequences. We call on you to stand with us in these beliefs.
It’s time for the University of Wisconsin-Madison to authentically support the Wisconsin Idea in its financial agreements by committing to cutting ties with Starbucks, as they are a union-busting corporation that has repeatedly violated labor law.
We demand that the University end its contract with Starbucks by May 3rd, 2024.
Will you stand with us, or will you continue supporting a company that stands opposed to the values that sustain us?

UW-Madison Students Against Starbucks
YDSA UW-Madison
Students for Justice in Palestine UW-Madison
Madison Area Democratic Socialists of America