Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Why I'm Boycotting Starbucks


Just to note - many people have said they asked Starbucks about their issue and Starbuck's reply is that they don't have anything to do with the dinner. But they mean the dinner itself and who the speaker is. But they are corporate sponsor and will have a table there as they indicate in their statement.

They are playing it both ways - we're in but we didn't decide on anything. Except to give their financial support to a right-wing organization.

end of update

There had been a rumor that Starbucks supported the Washington State right-wing thinktank, the Washington Policy Center.  Their sponsorship dollars are helping to throw WPC's annual fundraising dinner that features Sec'y Betsy DeVos and Fox's Neil Cavuto. I was aghast but thought it was probably not true.

It IS. I talked with their newsroom and here is their lackluster statement:
"Starbucks is one of 80 sponsors of this Washington Policy Center dinner and we are not involved in determining speakers for any of their events. This event in Bellevue is one of many they host each year with a variety of speakers discussing policy issues. We will be attending as part of our annual membership."
Well Starbucks, I don't care if your money decided the speaker or not.

 The Washington Policy Center is far-right free market group.  They are affiliated with the Koch brothers and ALEC, two groups set on undermining our country including public education.

Betsy DeVos is one of the most singularly unqualified people to ever serve in a cabinet. Her stated goals will completely destroy public education as we know it.

Here's my stated goal: I'm done with Starbucks and I'm going to ask you to consider doing the same except first, go to your local Starbucks and tell them why they won't be seeing your smiling face any longer.

 Starbucks gets to spend its bucks anyway they like but my dollars won't support Betsy DeVos' efforts nor ALEC nor the Koch brothers.


Anonymous said...

I find this confusing. Howard Schultz is not a big supporter of the Koch brothers, DeVos or right-wingers of any stripe. Why would Starbucks be involved in any way with this group?


Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't know why; that's why I just didn't believe it at first. But their statement is directly from headquarters. Very disappointing and very sad. WPD is directly aligned with Koch and ALEC.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Howard just retire?


Eric B said...

Washington Policy Center is aligned with Koch. Washington Paramount Duty is another fish entirely. It's probably clear to readers, but just wanted to make sure.

John stewart said...

Who did you speak to at Starbucks? Apparently their media relations folks are saying they are not involved with this event...I tried to find an online listing of sponsors for the event and have not had any luck doing so. Just curious about this as I can't find anywhere that Starbucks is even a member of WPC. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Luckily, I am considered media. I asked their newsroom and they got right back to me. I spoke to a woman and then she sent me that statement. I also asked how long Starbucks had been a sponsor at WPC and said she didn't know but would ask.

Sarina said...

Just an FYI, I also talked to Starbucks and this is the response I received: "We are not supporting nor are we in any way involved in the WPC events in Spokane or Bellevue." Another former Starbucks partner also received this response.

Anonymous said...

Why can't SB support WPC ? Are you going to organize boycotts of other WPC supporters? Maybe SB is a voice of reason on WPC ?

Enough Polotics

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am baffled as to why Starbucks says one thing to some people and told me their response. I have the email, I have the name of the person and we talked on the phone.

To note, what they are saying is they are not DIRECTLY involved in the dinner. They didn't pick the speaker, blah, blah, blah. But they ARE corporate sponsors of WPC and therefore, their dollars support WPC's efforts and viewpoints.

EP, well, Starbucks is not a company like most of the ones aligned with WPC. Maybe I will list all of them and then suggest avoiding them as well. Thanks for the good idea.

Sarina said...

Melissa, I am such a supporter of your work to help children, families and educators. I agree with you on just about everything, and yet this one is throwing me for a loop. I am not sure why we got different answers, and am pursuing it further.

I know Starbucks well. I am a former partner, and have had a family connection since middle school. I am all for voting with our dollars. I just am not sure singling out one organization that primarily does a tremendous amount of good, is the solution to the horrible situation we find ourselves in with schools, education, etc.

I get very concerned when something appears as Ready, Fire, then Aim. (Not your actions at all, just what I have seen around this one particular conflict). I want to model for the right what we would like to see from them. I was particularly concerned with Fuse's petition as it labels Starbucks as a sponsor but when Fuse was contacted they said, well they are not actually a sponsor but have a table at the event. Their petition still states that Starbucks is a sponsor.

My other concern is that this singles out one company because it does good and we are baffled by it. How about listing all of the companies, or going through the list of board members and finding out where they work? And even if we did all that, would that help us reach our goal of fully funded, developmentally appropriate, socially just education?

There is so much wrong right now. I am not sure why this heated me so much except that I am so overwhelmed with horrible news that this seemed tangible to respond to. I don't have the magic answer. I do know that my biggest take away from the election is that we have a lot of people in this country that feel unheard and are fearful. Boycotts, while at times highly successful, do not bring people to the table. They shame, punish and judge. They may create the end result in that one case, but they rarely create connection, heal divide and suggest how we might do a better job of respecting difference while cooperating to solve problems.

I think we get so much further by listening, by understanding, by connecting. I believe this deeply in my work with families and educators and I believe it deeply when it comes to politics and social change. Here's a great example of the power of connection and listening that gives me hope. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/the-audacity-of-talking-about-race-with-the-klu-klux-klan/388733/

I know we are all doing our best, and I totally respect the decisions we each make in order to create a healthier more just society.


Anonymous said...

Well, another great reason to boycott SB is because of their terrible coffee. How about that? I watched SB move into SF and cynically position itself to drive our city's wonderful tasty local coffee shops out of business and replace them with their boring sour brew. (Although now they dump a load of sugar in their 'drinks'). OK, that's just business. But when we moved to Seattle we always ask restaurants what coffee they serve, and if it is SB, we order tea!! And we tell them why. Try some tasty alternatives: Pete's, Zoka, Herkimer or (especially) Vif.


Unknown said...

I love these kinds of comments. "Why can't SB support WPC?"

They can! And we can speak up in opposition to their support. That's how it works.

Enough 'polotics'? What world are you living in? It ain't the same one the rest of us are in, apparently.

Thank you, Melissa for being on this and we're looking forward to hearing how- and if- Starbucks decides to unwind themselves from this.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sarina, Starbucks is a sponsor of WPC. Their dollars are sponsoring that dinner. So for me, that's enough. My dollars will not support the WPC in ALL their efforts for a "free-market" and that includes education.

Oddly, Starbucks is not listed in their annual report for the last two years which leads me to believe that there is a backdoor way to donate. I am happy - as I already said - to list all the other people/entities who donate (some who I was not surprised to see and some that I was).

Shaming is a great gift with social media. You may not have a millennial but I have two and they are very savvy about holding companies accountable. It works. So if some companies consider who they give money to based on consumers who are not happy with that support, fine with me.

I hear you on the state of our society. But those to the right are not listening and haven't been for years, if not decades. I've been in Olympia, I hear the NRA win, time after time, and I'm tired of trying to be the one to find compromise and consensus as all adults should.

Starbucks can do whatever they want with their money but I'm going to make sure that as many people know that as possible. Let's see what Diane Ravitch has to say. Or maybe Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty simple: if Starbucks wanted to distance themselves from WPC and DeVos, they would leave no doubt in anyone's mind about it. They'd shout their opposition from the rooftops. But they aren't. They're making it clear they support the WPC and their right-wing policy agenda and still refuse to make a clear and unequivocal statement against DeVos and the organization bringing her here to speak.

I get that people like Starbucks and have had great experiences with them, but that doesn't invalidate the fact that they are funding a key right-wing think tank and helping them bring DeVos to our state.

Peet Tully

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Peet; well said.

No person or company is all bad or all good and let's not white-wash any of it.

Unknown said...

Don't go to your local Starbucks and talk to your local barista like this. Most of them are working there for health benefits or free college tuition. Your local barista has nothing to do with any of this. Write to starbucks, tell a manager or someone in corporate.

Be nice to the people who live and work in your neighborhood, especially when they're working an entry level customer service job.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Adele, I said talk to the manager, not a barista.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Melissa, you did not say "talk to the manager." You said, "Here's my stated goal: I'm done with Starbucks and I'm going to ask you to consider doing the same except first, go to your local Starbucks and tell them why they won't be seeing your smiling face any longer."

Some poor kid's gonna take the brunt of your advice.

Blue Collar

Anonymous said...

In the support of boycotts to generate information and bring about change this is just another one of the blog "owners" ham fisted attempts at witch hunting...

Word of warning.. this caused a man's livelihood


Starbucks has crappy coffee and have destroyed many a business - Torefazione anyone?

Just don't go there period but keep your verbal diatribe to letters to management

- Old Timer

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Adele, I should have said manager. I would have thought most adults would understand that and, of course, you don't tell any front person in a store like a barista.

As well, Starbucks is in no danger of going under but shaming a big corporation is a good way to get them to think about their actions. As well, I think it good idea to have a face to face interaction with a manager and not just send a letter that goes in the garbage. At the least, go to Starbucks' Facebook page and do it.

Anonymous said...

As has been said in this feed,Starbucks is absolutely entitled to endorse, financially and otherwise any entity they choose, it's their money. Likewise, I (and other consumers) have the right to boycott companies/businesses that support political think tanks, politicians etc, that we disagree with, it's OUR money to decide how to spend it. Starbucks is a large corporation and I'm fairly certain they'll survive a boycott and it's doubtful their employees will be in the unemployment line anytime soon. But nothing gets the attention of a company as quickly as bad press or a decline in sales. It won't put them out of business, but it will give them pause for thought.

Anonymous said...

And undoubtedly that line Manager will take that criticism as well as you do.

- Old Timer

Anonymous said...

It's telling what you think is worthy of "shaming." Usually these shaming campaigns are relegated to things like organizational racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. You want to shame Starbucks for nothing more than sponsoring a table at a single event for a right-wing, free market organization that doesn't share your politics.

How very divisive and exclusive our politics and ideology have become.

Of course, you should feel free to spend your money as you wish. But to attempt to "shame" a corporation or a person over their politics is just hateful.

Wile E. Coyote

retired teacher said...

I am boycotting Starbucks indefinitely because they are sponsoring DeVoss. I cannot believe this isn't in full boycott mode by all public education teachers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Wile, they are NOT sponsoring a table at this event. They said so themselves.

What they ARE doing is giving sums of money to this group to continue their work of trying to dismantle public education in this country.

We absolutely can shame companies, churches, groups - over any idea that is political. It's how our country operates and if you think it isn't being done on the right, you're wrong.

retired teacher said...

Why isn't this going into full boycott mode from public education teachers? I will never buy another Starbucks anything anymore!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, you are wrong that our country operates on shame. That's a disgusting point of view. I know you operate in the political space based on shaming others but it's not actually how our country and successful politics works. That's frankly a bizarre and frightening point of view.

And yes, I know the right engages in shaming as does the left. That doesn't mean it's effective and doesn't mean it should continue. You will continue, that's clear.


retired teacher said...

Here's Starbucks reply to me from FBHi Mary - Thank you for sharing your concerns with us. As one of 80 sponsors of this Washington Policy Center dinner, we are not involved in determining speakers for any of their events. We will be attending the dinner as part of our commitment to civic engagement and civil dialogue, we need to engage directly with government officials on our social impact and policy agenda whether or not we agree with their views. Being a member of WPC has given us the opportunity to do just that and we are using every opportunity possible to educate government officials about the need for Pell Grants, debt reform, and higher-ed affordability.

I am boycotting and will not be back!!

Anonymous said...

Boycott Starbucks! One of the few socially responsible large corporations. Health care benefits for part time employees and a free College tuition plan. Genius!

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