Starbucks' CSR Not Worth a Hill of Beans

On August 6, "when opening statements are set to begin in the trial over Starbucks' anti-union operation, in some ways corporate social responsibility itself will be on trial," writes Daniel Gross. The case, before the National Labor Relations Board in New York, deals with a number of union busting activities by Starbucks, such as the firing of three baristas who were organizing a union, including Gross himself. "Why are workers organizing at this darling of the corporate media?" he asks. "Starbucks workers struggle to make ends meet with a poverty wage of around $7 or $8 per hour. ... The total number of full-time hourly café employees at Starbucks is zero. ... The company boasts about its health care plan but its own data reveal that it insures a lower percentage of employees than Wal-Mart." Gross concludes, "Activists can and do make use of CSR [corporate social responsibility] by pointing out the hypocrisy behind the big brands. But that's about all CSR is good for."