Starbucks: A Baristas Union?

At the Labor Board trial of the company, twentysomething activists try to poke holes in the company's socially responsible image

In a spare office-like courtroom in midtown Manhattan, former Starbucks (SBUX) barista and Bronx native Joe Agins Jr. sits on the witness stand with eyes wide open. Dressed in an oversized T-shirt and sporting a goatee, he looks younger than his 24 years. Several times, he asks the judge for time to calm his nerves and gain his composure. Agins is describing a day in 2006, after he'd become an outspoken member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union, when he was introduced to the company's New York metro regional vice-president, who asked him if he liked working at Starbucks. "I felt closed in and trapped by management, and like I was under pressure," he says.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.