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Striking Minneapolis Baristas Hit Starbucks Where It Hurts: Pumpkin Spice Day

Plus Birk finally addresses PPP, we're fresh outta docs, and a new path for passive aggression in today's Flyover.

The man standing behind the striking workers shouted at an SUV attempting to score PSLs: "THIS IS A LABOR ACTION!"
Jay Boller

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

PSL? More Like Pissed-off Striking Labor

Back in July, just as the NLRB called out Starbucks for illegal union-busting, workers at the freshly unionized 4712 Cedar Ave. cafe went on strike for two days. On Tuesday, the fed-up baristas returned to the picket line for a one-day strike. But it’s not just any day: It’s Pumpkin Spice Day, the annual launch of the multinational coffee giant’s autumnal drink line.

“We make all of their profits for them. We have all of the power in this situation,” worker Kasey Copeland said from the boulevard. “Today was the release of the fall flavors, and they haven’t made a penny. We know that’s one of the biggest days of the year for us, because people are insane over their pumpkin. And I get it; I love it. But we’ve gotta hit them with the only thing they care about, which is the money.” 

The main grievances, per Copeland: Starbucks refusing to negotiate a contract, firing union-associated employees, changing store hours without notice, and denying raises. As 200+ of its 9,000 U.S. stores have been swept up in a swelling unionization wave, the Seattle-based company has acted like a recalcitrant, union-busting baby.

“We just want them to realize that we’re not going to continue to tolerate illegal activity,” Copeland says. “They’re going to continue to see action—escalating action—if they don’t act accordingly. We’re not asking for anything crazy.”

So far, nine Minnesota Starbucks have attempted to organize—five wins, two losses, one withdrawn, and one cake-eatin’ TBDHere’s a link to the Minnesota-based Starbucks Workers United strike fund.

Birk Finally Answers for PPP Handout… Sorta

Remarkably, Racket is the only local news outlet to have scrutinized the fully forgiven, $64,000 PPP loan that aspiring lieutenant governor Matt Birk nabbed for his two-man public speaking company. He’s apparently one of the men, Arkansas businessman Paul Vitale appears to be the other. (Birk’s team ignored our request for comment.) On Monday, WCCO Radio’s Jason DeRusha took our suggested Q and asked Birk—a free-market bootstrapper who earned an estimated $51,498,037 in the NFL—about his government aid:

“Well, the government shut down my business,” Birk said, tone indignant. “Ninety-percent of our revenue was from live events, and when there’s no live events… and I didn’t put forth the program, the federal government did. We met the criteria. I, as the owner of the company, could not take any of the money, which I didn’t. It all went to my employees to keep getting paychecks. I kind of feel like as the CEO, that it’s my job to take care of them.”

Still unaddressed: If the PPP filing listed two employees, which it did, and Birk and Vitale are both employees… who, exactly, got the money? Moreover, it’s instructive to watch the ideological malleability of a small-government scold, one who could have easily dipped into his vast personal wealth to keep these mystery workers afloat, chuck principles aside and greedily feed at the white-collar handout trough.

Oh Good, Another Healthcare Crisis

Know how we’ve entered a nursing shortage, and how roughly 25% of Americans don’t have a primary care doctor, and how already climbing health insurance premiums are poised to spike for many families and small businesses in 2023? Well here’s another healthcare crisis to fret over with whatever remaining anxiety you have to allot: The nation is also facing a physician shortage. Minnpost’s Ana Radelat reports on a recent Mayo Clinic study which found that one in five physicians plan to leave medicine completely, while one in three doctors plan to reduce work hours. Among the reasons for the medical profession’s own Great Resignation? “[I]ncreasing red tape from health insurers, stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the consolidations of medical practices,” which “have resulted in burnout and a loss of autonomy,” Moose Lake’s Dr. Randy Rice, president of the Minnesota Medical Association, tells Minnpost. As a result, the American Medical Association predicts a shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians within 12 years. Bleak!

WiFi Shaming: The Digital Depths of Minnesota Passive Aggression?

I, Jay, am the only Minnesota-born Racket owner, and yet I had never heard of this passive aggressive shaming tactic deployed, apparently, by my New Jerseyite colleague: Using custom WiFi network names to subtly express your rage.

MinnPost’s Greta Kaul and MPR’s Jon Collins also dabble with this low-key conduit for voicing displeasure, causing me to wonder: Is this “a thing”? Are Minnesotans really out there calling out their neighbors via WiFi networks?

Sound off in the comments!