On Oct. 12, around twenty students organized outside the Carolina Inn with signs, drums and megaphones. Chants of, “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” could be heard from a block away.
The rally was protesting the attendance of Ritch Allison, who sits on Starbucks' Board of Directors, and the Vice President of partner resources at Starbucks Candace Burnett at business discussions hosted by Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, a private think tank and a partner of the Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Protestors voiced concerns that the school and the University were hosting leaders of Starbucks despite the company having a history of labor law violations.
“Starbucks refuses to bargain in good faith, they fire workers indiscriminately, they take away healthcare benefits,” Toby Posel, a protestor, said. “They do all kinds of horrible union-busting tactics.”
Hosted by Sunrise Durham, Campus Y, UNC Young Democratic Socialists of America and NC Triangle Democratic Socialists of America, the rally occurred while the Kenan Institute sponsored a "Fireside Chat" — mediated by the Dean of Kenan-Flagler Mary Margaret Frank — which Allison participated in. The chat was part of the two-day Frontiers of Business Conference, which had Burnett listed as a panelist on a different discussion earlier in the day.
Some students, like Posel, said the Starbucks representatives present held responsibility for some of the most "flagrant" labor law violations protestors were demonstrating against.