By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Jay did some computer consulting work for me last year. He is a very decent guy and a smart engineer. We should all have the balls (ha ha) to have as much fun as he does in the face of ridicule.
Jason Richmond, Virginia
Tron Guy, as someone who has worn a geeky costume to a con before, I know how hard it can be. Keep rocking it geeky, Mr. Maynard.
Skye Los Angeles, California
There are a few problems with the "Guess who's coming for breakfast" headline ("Headline Blues," 8/13/08). First, Barack Obama is biracial. Beth Walton says, "the public just wasn't ready to be reminded that Obama is, indeed, black." She would be just as correct to call him white.
Second, keep in mind that the movie the headline refers to was made in 1967, when race relations were far more volatile. Remember the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Well, basically, it outlawed segregation in schools, public places, and work places. In this case, we are talking about a biracial man making a five-minute stop in Minnesota to grab pancakes. This should not be remarkable today, and it certainly is not newsworthy based on his race, which the headline clearly points to. It should be newsworthy because he is a presidential candidate who deigned to get pancakes from a local dive. He is not breaking any barriers here. He is getting pancakes.
That brings us to the third point: Obama is not running to unify a country divided on race alone. He was certainly not making overtures in the pancake establishment to heal any racial division. He came for pancakes. I do not believe, from the pictures, that the pancake establishment was a bastion of white supremacy, more so than any other pancake place in Minnesota. This is really the only newsworthy event: Obama stopped to get pancakes. Copy editors and illustrators, save your energy.
I am currently a union barista at the Starbucks store in the Mall of America, and I have been working there for two years now ("Revolt of the Baristas," 7/30/08). I just wanted to offer up a couple of the reasons I have for joining a union, and why I think what we're doing is a good thing.
Firstly, I would like to dispel the myth that Starbucks is a good place to work. We make poverty wages that rank scarcely above fast-food giants like McDonald's and Burger King, and our scheduling is so inconsistent that we seldom get the hours we need to make the meager wages enough. Regarding the infamous health care that Starbucks touts as the paragon of employee benefits, the truth of the matter is that they don't give it to us—we have to buy it. And the rates are often much higher than MinnesotaCare, the health care offered by the state.
Secondly, I would like to say that my decision to join this union is not about Erik Forman, the fired barista. To some extent, it's not even about Starbucks. It's about all of the bad service jobs I've had in the past, and all of the jobs I will have in the future. The gains that we make in this campaign will have effects and increase standards across the industry, for us and for everyone else who ever has these jobs in the future.
Since we've formed a union, we've seen a number of changes for the better. We finally got a fan for behind the counter. This does not sound like a big deal, but the heat has been an issue in our store for the entire two years I've worked there and management has done nothing about it, despite countless requests to do so. Workers are now treated more respectfully on a daily basis by management. And, while these things are all great, this is just the beginning. With support from baristas at other Starbucks stores in the area growing, we can set our sights on bigger changes, like a living wage and better health care. Working at Starbucks will never be a great job, but if we all stand together we can demand just compensation for the hard work we do. To get involved with the Starbucks Workers Union, visit us online at starbucksunion.org or call us at 651.245.4871.
Jake Bell St. Paul