The decade's most triggering comedy
Starbucks and its barista labor union have filed dueling lawsuits against each other over a pro-Palestinian social media post from the union in the wake of Hamas’ attacks on Israel this month.
Starbucks filed a lawsuit against Starbucks Workers United in federal court in Iowa on Wednesday, accusing the union of damaging Starbucks’ reputation by posting on social media in support of Palestinians.
The Seattle-based coffee giant is alleging trademark infringement and demanding the union stop using the name “Starbucks” and a green logo that looks similar to the Starbucks logo.
The Starbucks workers’ union responded by filing its own lawsuit against the company in federal court in Pennsylvania. The union is accusing Starbucks of defaming the union by implying that it supports “terrorism, hate and violence.”
The union is requesting to be allowed to keep using the Starbucks name and the similar logo.
Starbucks Workers United posted “Solidarity with Palestine!” on X on October 9, two days after Hamas launched its deadly attacks on Israel that killed more than 1,400 people. The union’s post was quoting another post that included a picture of a bulldozer tearing down part of the Israel-Gaza border.
The union said in its lawsuit that workers put up the post without authorization from union leadership. The post was deleted after about 40 minutes.
The Iowa chapter of the union also promoted a rally supporting Palestinians, and the Boston chapter posted that it condemns the Israeli military for “senselessly and viciously bombing, murdering, and injuring innocent Palestinians.”
The union, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, represents about 9,000 Starbucks baristas and other employees at more than 360 of the coffee company’s 34,000 stores worldwide. On its website, the union accuses Starbucks of an “unprecedented union-busting campaign” and said the company “refuses to bargain with us in good-faith.”
The union’s president accused Starbucks of exploiting the violence overseas to fight the union.
“Starbucks is seeking to exploit the ongoing tragedy in the Middle East to bolster the company’s anti-union campaign,” Workers United President Lynne Fox wrote in a letter to Starbucks.
Meanwhile, Starbucks said it was inundated with more than 1,000 complaints about the union’s social media post. Hostile customers confronted Starbucks workers, who also received threatening phone calls, Starbucks said.
“Starbucks unequivocally condemns acts of terrorism, hate and violence, and we strongly disagree with the views expressed by Workers United,” Starbucks Executive Vice President Sara Kelly said in a statement on Tuesday.
Hamas’ attacks killed at least 27 Americans along with hundreds of Israeli civilians, including children. More than 200 Israelis have been taken hostage.
Israel is now waging a massive counteroffensive, launching airstrikes in Hamas-controlled territory and preparing for a ground offensive.