Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
For other meanings of the name "Starbuck," see Starbuck
Starbucks is a large multinational chain of coffee shops, often serving desserts, with a reputation in the US as a center for socializing, particularly among students and young urban professionals. Corporate headquarters is in Seattle, Washington. The company was named after Starbuck, a character in Moby-Dick, and its mascot is a stylized cartoon siren. As of January 2005, Starbucks had 8,949 outlets worldwide: 6,376 of them in the United States and 2,573 in other countries. 861 of them are drive-through outlets.
The first Starbucks was opened in Seattle in 1971 by three partners (Jerry Baldwin , Zev Siegel , and Gordon Bowker ) wanting to sell high-quality coffee beans and machines, at its still-operating location across from Pike Place Market. Entrepreneur Howard Schultz joined the company in 1982 and inspired by the Italian espresso bars, started the Il Giornale coffee bar chain in 1985. A few years after the original owners took the opportunity to purchase Peet's Coffee and Tea, they sold the Starbucks chain to Howard Schultz, whose Il Giornale outlets were rebranded as Starbucks in 1987. Starbucks opened its first locations in Vancouver, British Columbia (at Waterfront Station) and Chicago, Illinois in 1987. Its first location outside of North America was opened in Tokyo, Japan, in 1996, and now Starbucks has outlets in 30 additional countries.
By the time of its initial public offering on the stock market in 1992, it had grown to 165 outlets. In April 2003 Starbucks added 150 new outlets in one day, by completing the purchase of Seattle's Best Coffee and Torrefazione Italia from AFC Enterprises. As of May 2003, Starbucks operated more than 6,400 locations worldwide. Stung by criticism of the conditions in which its coffee was grown, the company introduced a line of fair trade products; although the majority of its sales are not certified fair trade, Starbucks pays its producers some of the highest rates per pound in the world. Starbucks is also known for providing even part-time employees with healthcare benefits and stock options.
Starbucks' success in the US market has not always been replicated around the world, as it has faced stiff competition in locations where existing coffee shops and restaurants already serve a variety of high-quality coffees, and from a number of retailers which emulate Starbucks' business model (often adding a local twist).
On May 17, 2004, Starbucks' workers at the 36th and Madison store in midtown Manhattan organized for the first Starbucks barista union in the United States of America. The 12 workers, with assistance from the Industrial Workers of the World IU/660 submitted union cards to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a certification election. The baristas complain that a starting wage of $7.75 an hour is not a living wage in New York City and that Starbucks refuses to guarantee regularity of hours per week, which leads to extreme precarity.
On July 22, 2004, the Retail Workers' Union IU/660 filed an unfair labor practice charge against Starbucks for allegedly making threats of wage cuts, giving bribes, and selectively enforcing no-distribution policies to alter the results of the barista's union vote. The IU/660 has also joined with Global Exchange in calling on Starbucks to purchase at least 5% of the store's coffee from fair trade certified sources. Currently only 1% of Starbucks' coffee is fair trade.
On January 14, 2005 charges stemming from a march at the 2004 Republican National Convention were dropped against Starbucks' baristas' union co-founder Daniel Gross. Witnesses allege Starbuck's managers coordinated with the NYPD to single out Daniel Gross and another union activist from a crowd of 200 peaceful protesters. Witnesses also claim to have incontrovertible video tape evidence that shows the arresting police officer(s) fabricated evidence including filing a false police report. The dismissal charges came two weeks after the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against the company [Starbucks] alleging that management made threats, gave bribes, and created an impression of surveillance in a failed effort to defeat the first-ever union of Starbucks café workers in the United States. 
The siren (sometimes referred to as a mermaid, but this figure has two tails) in the Starbucks' logo changed over the years due to political reasons. In the first version she had naked breasts. In the second, streamlined version, they were covered by hair, but the navel was still visible. In the current version, the navel is not visible anymore. See also: The Mermaid
Starbucks and globalization
Starbucks has pursued an ambitious campaign of expansion in international markets beyond its North American base. As such it has come to be regarded, particularly by the anti-globalization movement, as a flagship of globalization and a prime example of the ills some feel globalization carries. Several on-line campaign groups maintain websites decrying the company, criticizing its fair-trade policies, labor relations, environmental impact, and holding it as a paragon of what they see as US cultural and economic imperialism. Branches of Starbucks have been attacked during protests, including those against the WTO meeting in Seattle, and the theme is picked up in fictional media: the movie Fight Club depicts anti-corporatist guerillas destroying a chain coffee house (clearly a thinly-veiled Starbucks).
- Official website
- Starbucks union website
- Correction to the widely-circulated mistake about the origin of Starbucks name
- Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks
- Voice of dissent
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