Also, the New York State Common wants big banks to stop investing in fossil fuels, and a new report shows payday loan reforms are saving borrowers millions in fees
Starbucks Union Wave continues
Workers at a Starbucks coffee shop in Pittsburgh voted unanimously (20-0) to do so First shop in Pennsylvania to organize.
Their success is part of a nationwide union wave. For example, workers in Eugene, Oregon, collectively voted to organize. So far, 20 Starbucks cafes have unionized and more than 200 locations are registering for union elections, with five stores having announced their intentions within the last 48 hours.
NPR reports that so far only one shop has organized itself into a union. Company executives are using a variety of tactics to discourage employees from unionizing, including the recent return of Howard Schultz as interim CEO on April 4th.
Schultz has gained the trust of employees but is notoriously anti-union. On his first day back, he pledged that his role “in returning to Starbucks is to make sure we… reinvent a new Starbucks, with our partners at the heart, as a pro-partner company, as a company.” , that doesn’t need anyone between us and our people.”
However, employees continue to complain of abuse. Allegations of Starbucks’ illegal anti-union practices prompted the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to do so to file a lawsuit against the coffee chain for allegedly threatening, questioning and harassing workers.
“We would all happily give this company everything we had if we were treated the same way coming back,” Claire Picciano, a Virginia barista, told NPR.
Keep up with developments here.
New York State Common supports stopping fossil fuel funding
On Tuesday, the New York State Common Retirement Fund announced its support for a shareholder resolution that would require financial institutions to stop funding fossil fuel projects, pensions and investments reports.
Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo are the six companies that would be affected by this (non-binding) resolution, which each company strongly opposes. The board members said the proposal was irrelevant given the company’s current environmental policies and did not address “the complexities of reducing carbon emissions.”
However, the pension fund argues that it is necessary to create actual changes. “All of these financial institutions have made net-zero commitments … but to ensure those commitments are credible, they must adopt policies that eliminate funding for new fossil fuel exploration and development,” the Securities and Exchange Commission filing reads .
Four of the six companies affected by this resolution are on the list of the top 12 banks financing the fossil fuel sector, according to a 2022 Banking on Climate Chaos report. JP Morgan Chase tops the list after investing $382 billion in fossil fuels over the past five years, despite joining the Net Zero Banking Alliance last year.
“It’s time to stop funding fossils. Oil, gas and coal companies will not manage their own decline.” called David Tong, Global Industry Campaign Manager at Oil Change International. “The simple reality is that the basic arithmetic of 1.5°C requires oil and gas production to decline by at least 3-4% per year from now on. But no major oil and gas company has committed to halting expansion, and banks around the world continue to pour billions into fossil fuels. This has to stop now.”
Payday loans are four times higher in states with less consumer protection
According to Pew Charitable Trusts, states with payday loan reforms have saved consumers millions in fees report.
Researchers looked at Colorado, Hawaii, Ohio and Virginia and found that the stronger consumer protections these four states offer improve access to credit. Because of these guidelines, lenders offer smaller loans that can cost up to four times less than lump sum payday loans.
Lenders have also generally benefited from the policies implemented. Ohio’s own legislature created new lenders who had previously avoided operating in the state because of confusing regulations. Now shops offering loans have become much more efficient as the number of customers has increased from 500 to nearly 1,300.
The study concludes by recommending that other states implement their own sweeping reforms, as 27 states offer lump sum payday loans.
Solcyre (Sol) Burga was an Emma Bowen Foundation fellow at Next City in the summer of 2021. Burga is completing her degree in Political Science and Journalism at Rutgers University and plans to graduate in May 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to uplift the voices of underrepresented communities through her work.