In This Episode
- Former President Donald Trump will make his first court appearance in Manhattan today, to answer to criminal charges handed down by a grand jury on Thursday. He’s expected to face dozens of charges related to hush money he paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
- Starbucks is facing more scrutiny, after former CEO Howard Schultz was grilled by Senate lawmakers last week over the company’s labor practices and allegations of union-busting. Michelle Eisen, who helped form the chain’s first-ever bargaining unit in Buffalo, New York, joins us to discuss where things stand for Starbucks Workers United.
- And in headlines: Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin conceded defeat to the country’s right-wing National Coalition Party, a federal judge temporarily blocked Tennessee’s anti-drag law, and NASA named the crew for its first lunar mission in 50 years.
- Starbucks Workers United – https://sbworkersunited.org/
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, April 4th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day where just when we think Elon Musk can’t get more annoying, he changes the Twitter icon to a doge avatar.
Josie Duffy Rice: I was super confused because why was there a dog on my twitter page? Like everything confusing in my life the answer is Elon Musk. [laughter] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, Wisconsin voters head to the polls in an election that could determine the fate of abortion rights in that state. Plus, our last story may compel you to water your houseplants more often.
Josie Duffy Rice: But first, Trump landed in New York from Florida on Monday in preparation for his expected arraignment today in Manhattan criminal Court. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has indicted Trump on charges related to hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Cable News devoted a ton of time to this on Monday, lots of tracking his plane and watching him descend and, you know, giving more media attention to Donald Trump. What could go wrong?
Tre’vell Anderson: Attention that’s not even necessary. Like, who cares when he touches down in New York? Okay?
Josie Duffy Rice: Not me. Not me.
Tre’vell Anderson: Huh yi yi. Okay. So, Josie, do we know exactly what charges Trump is facing at this point yet?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, there are rumors of 30 plus charges. Many, if not all, are related to campaign finance violations. But we actually don’t know quite yet because the indictment is currently under seal, which means it’s not public. At the latest we expect that indictment to be unsealed once Trump actually appears in court at around 2:15 Eastern Time. Several media outlets have asked the judge to unseal the indictment earlier. So at this point, those requests have not been granted or denied.
Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So after he’s arraigned, what happens next? Can we expect this to go straight to trial from there?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, Tre’vell, what happens next is a long, arduous road, [laughter] that will certainly wear on all of our mental health. Yes, it could possibly go to trial. It’s certainly not impossible. There are basically three possibilities here. Right. The charges get dropped. He pleas out to some lesser charges or it goes to trial. According to NPR, it’s pretty unlikely that this case is plead out. The Trump we all know and quote unquote, “love”, love, italicized in sarcasm font is like unlikely to accept a settlement here. That’s just not his style. Like he’s a drama king. He likes to play up the underdog, the victimizing. Right. Like, this is a chance to make himself seem persecuted. So it’s pretty possible this goes to trial and that will take a long time. Like, it’s pretty much guaranteed that he’ll be out on his own recognizance. He’s not going to be held in jail pretrial or anything. That would be, I mean, shocking. And like I said, if it were to go to trial, it would be a really long time until we got there. So a year at least, probably like choosing a jury alone would take a very long time. Very few people are unbiased in one direction or the other when it comes to Trump. It’s just going to be an enormously, enormously long process.
Tre’vell Anderson: I am happy to volunteer as an unbiased jury member. Josie I’m volunteering to review the evidence and make an unbiased decision.
Josie Duffy Rice: I have a feeling Trump’s lawyers will love having a member of the media on [laughter] he loves the media. If you haven’t heard so.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. [laughing]
Josie Duffy Rice: He’ll be thrilled. He’ll choose you immediately.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Why not?
Josie Duffy Rice: Why not?
Tre’vell Anderson: Everybody loves me.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s true. It is true.
Tre’vell Anderson: Even Republicans.
Josie Duffy Rice: It is true. You’re very charming. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: I do what I can.
Josie Duffy Rice: You do.
Tre’vell Anderson: All right. So what else then, can we expect today since he likely is not going to jail?
Josie Duffy Rice: So New York City is preparing for anything really. Here’s Mayor Eric Adams discussing the preparation.
[clip of Mayor Eric Adams] Uh New York City is always, always ready. We know that this is a city where our NYPD and other law enforcement entities must be prepared at any given moment for anything to happen in this city.
Josie Duffy Rice: Just shockingly unspecific. [laughter] So city authorities are expecting a lot of protesters. Trump has encouraged his own supporters to show up outside of the courthouse. There will probably be anti-Trump protesters there. Apparently, every single eligible NYPD officer is expected to be on duty today, which is–
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Josie Duffy Rice: –not a small amount of people. It’s also worth noting, like the courthouse is downtown, downtown Manhattan, right. It’s near like a lot of other courthouses or legal facilities. Basically, it’s near the ICE field office where undocumented migrants have their cases held day after day. Other court systems have actually announced that they will be closed today because of the mayhem. But ICE reportedly remains open for business. Naturally, this could certainly have a chilling effect on those who are expected to show up to immigration court today. And, you know, the backlash that they might face by Trump supporters, etc.. So I think we can expect chaos. That feels like a fair assumption.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, all righty, then. Buckle up, everybody. Thank you so much for that, Josie. Now on to an update on a story we’ve been following for a little minute now. That is of the efforts of Starbucks Workers United, the union representing baristas at the coffee chain across the country. You might remember that back in 2021, the first ever Starbucks unionized in Buffalo, New York. Since then, over 270 other locations have formed their own collective bargaining units. The latest being just yesterday, when workers at the marketplace drive Starbucks in Rochester, New Hampshire, became the first in their state to file for a union election. Here’s a bit of what they said in their letter announcing the decision quote, “We love our jobs and our hopes for it aren’t extravagant. We want to be active in the process of how our stores run. We want to be trained and staffed to meet the demand we are presented with and to give a consistent, clean, safe and pleasant experience to our customers. We want to feel heard and safe where we work. Wages that reflect that essential status, steady hours that guarantee we will actually be able to access the robust benefits package the company boasts.” But of course, Josie capitalism is capitalisming. And so the higher ups at the company have basically been stalling at the negotiation table and employing other union busting tactics to deter this wave of organizing. So much so that National Labor Review Board regional directors have issued at least 80 complaints against the company. And the National Labor Review Board said recently that Starbucks actually violated federal law by refusing to fairly negotiate.
Josie Duffy Rice: I really love the line of our hopes are not extravagant. It’s just a reminder that what people are asking is like a living wage.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Simple things.
Josie Duffy Rice: Simple, simple things. Like they want to be able to take sick days. They want to be able to know their schedule in advance. They want to be able to be paid enough money to pay their rent. It’s basic, right. And Starbucks, former CEO and former presidential candidate, if you may have blocked that out, as you should have. Howard Schultz recently testified before Congress about all of this. Right. And he’s a huge labor rights supporter. Just kidding. He’s not. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: He is not. And yes, he did testify before Congress, we should say, right, that he has stepped down. He is no longer CEO, as you mentioned. But organizers say he is definitely the mastermind behind the company’s approach to unions. And under the threat of subpoena, he had to answer to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last week, also known as the HELP Committee. Bernie Sanders chairs that committee, in case you were wondering. And we mentioned the tense back and forth between Sanders and Schultz last week on the show. The TLDR of it is that Schultz said his company has done nothing wrong. And, you know, in the words of Maury Povich, the lie detector test determined that was a lie.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Did it ever? Which is shocking because I’ve never heard of a presidential candidate and CEO of a Fortune 500 company lying. No way.
Tre’vell Anderson: They don’t do that type of thing, You know, Josie.
Josie Duffy Rice: No.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now one of the people attending that hearing was Michelle Eisen. She’s a Starbucks barista and union organizer who was actually part of the group that unionized the first Starbucks back in 2021. I got a chance to check in with her earlier this week about where things stand for Starbucks Workers United. And I started by asking her about her reaction to Schultz’s testimony. Take a listen.
Michelle Eisen: There was I don’t want to say shock, but I think some people were genuinely shocked that he could sit up there and actually lie. There was some actual audible laughter that happened in that room, you know, mostly because I think it’s either laugh or cry. And to hear this man just deny all of these things. I think one of the most important or interesting statements that he made is when he was repeatedly asked why he gave all of these improved benefits to nonunion workers when he came back to the company, but then made the actual statement that I’m not giving these to the unionized workers or the workers that are organizing. And he kept saying, well, I was under the impression that legally I wasn’t allowed to do that. And then finally, when he was confronted with the actual truth, which is that there is no legality behind that, if the unionized workers say, no, we’d like those benefits, too. There’s no legal reason the company can’t give those benefits to the unionized workers. The only reason they don’t give them to the unions workers is it’s retaliation and it’s a punishment for organizing.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Michelle Eisen: And most of the benefit that he gave to these workers were based off proposals that the union made after we won like expanded dress code, faster accrual of sick time, credit card tipping. These were all our own proposals that the company was like, you know what? Those are really great ideas. So to see him on the hot seat for that and to just see him kind of squirm. This is a man who’s not used to squirming.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Michelle Eisen: Like that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. You know, for folks who haven’t organized a union before, I happened to have. Can you paint a picture of what union busting really looks like, you know, in real life, and in particular, from your view, as a worker, for folks who just don’t have any conception of what that might look like.
Michelle Eisen: So at least in the experience we had here in Buffalo, pretty much from the onset of our campaign, it looked like Starbucks corporate shipping in over 100 plus out of town managers to infiltrate our stores. To be next to you when you’re putting a grilled cheese in the oven to follow you into the back room when you’re going to get a sleeve of cups. All in an attempt to surveil and intimidate you from talking about the union with your coworkers, from bringing up any issues in the store that may want to cause your coworkers to support the union efforts. Here what they did was they called it support managers, and they said that the reason that all of the issues existed in our stores here was because our management was so poor.
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Michelle Eisen: And so they’d sent these new managers in to teach our managers how to be better so that we wouldn’t form a union. They also insisted that the issues we were having at all of our stores here didn’t exist in any other stores in the country, that it was just this particular market and they were very sorry. They didn’t know what had happened, but they were here and they were going to fix all of our problems, which, by the way, is a violation of U.S. labor law. Once a campaign has been started, you can’t come in and solicit grievances, which means you can’t make things better and you can’t make things worse. You have to leave things alone until after the election to keep things fair. None of that happened. I mean, we’re talking people all the way up the chain of command to Rossann Williams, who at that point was the president of Starbucks, North America. She makes something like $4 million a year, and she’s coming into my store and asking me if she can take out the trash and get a bucket of ice in her $500 plus suit, just making a mockery of our jobs.
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Michelle Eisen: It was incredibly insulting. It’s funny because they were all doing this and then it made the press that they were coming into these stores and cleaning the bathroom in these crazy expensive suits. Like the next day they showed up in our stores wearing these like [?] sweatshirts and like, hoodies and like joggers. And I was like hmm–
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Michelle Eisen: You’re cosplaying–
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Michelle Eisen: –now as the working class like, what is going on right now? It also looked like captive audience meetings, which is essentially forcing hourly workers into a meeting and saying, you know, you don’t have to attend this meeting, but if you want to get paid for the rest of your shift, you do have to attend this meeting. So you’re telling people who are living paycheck to paycheck they’re going to lose their entire shift or half their shift or part of their shift if they don’t come and sit in this hotel conference room and have you talk at them for an hour about why they shouldn’t join a union, that’s what it looks like. It looks like intimidation. In some cases it looks like promises and promotions. They were taking one 16 year old barista out to lunch weekly and telling her she was going to be the next district manager of our market. This is a child. They will say anything they need to say to get that no vote.
Tre’vell Anderson: We know that Schultz , of course, has stepped down as CEO, leaving Laxman Narasimhan to assume the role. You know, immediately. He’s been quick to make an impression, from what we can tell from the outside looking in. And he’s been pictured working in some stores alongside baristas. He’s committed to working as a barista for a half day a month to, quote, “stay connected with workers and the company culture.” As a worker, as a barista. Does that mean anything to you and your coworkers that he’s giving up a half a day a month to be in the trenches with you all?
Michelle Eisen: No, I mean, that does not. I’m looking at this as potentially, you know, Schultz’s stepping down. Laxman has a chance to actually right this ship and actually come to the table. If you want to know what it’s like to be a barista, if you want to know what your workers are going through, if you want to you know have that experience, sit across the table from them and have a constructive conversation when they’re not trying to make 100 drinks in 5 minutes because you’re not going to hear their problems. They’re not going to be able to voice those appropriately when they’re just trying to keep their head above water and try to keep you from whatever mistakes you’re about to make. Because, you know, I’m sorry, sir, but you don’t just get to step in for a half a day–
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Michelle Eisen: –once a month and expect things to go smoothly. In fact, the baristas working around you are probably going to struggle really hard that day, trying to make sure that mistakes don’t happen. And it’s because that’s not your job.
Tre’vell Anderson: That was my conversation with Starbucks union organizer Michelle Eisen. We’ll keep you posted, of course, on how the organizing effort goes. And hopefully Starbucks will get its, you know what together and soon. But that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s been a busy couple of days for Finland. For starters, its center left Prime Minister Sanna Marin, conceded defeat Monday to the country’s right wing National Coalition party following a close three way race. You may remember that we’ve mentioned Marin on the show last summer after she essentially fought for her right to party. The then 36 year old came under fire after a relatively tame video surfaced of her dancing in a nightclub with some friends, prompting her critics to demand that she take a drug test. She refused. Progressive female politician makes international news for going out with her friends. Not cool. But more importantly, Marin’s government spearheaded the effort for Finland to join NATO following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And Finland will officially join the alliance today after Turkey’s parliament voted to approve its application. However, Turkey and Hungary continue to stonewall Sweden’s entry.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re in Wisconsin, you better get your behind to a polling station because today is the day to choose a new justice for the state Supreme Court. You’ve heard us talk about this election on the show before, but we can’t stress it enough. This is the most important election of the year and will determine the fate of abortion rights in the Badger State and whether all of us in the U.S. can have a shot at retaining a functional representative democracy. Wisconsin voters. The choice is between the progressive candidate, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz and the conservative Dan Kelly, who has not only been outspoken against abortion access, but also has ties to the Stop the Steal movement. We’ll let you think about that for a minute. You don’t need much time, though, because it should be obvious to not vote for him. Okay. Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Wisconsin has same day voter registration. So there’s still time to help get out the vote. You can also head over to VoteSaveAmerica.com for more information.
Josie Duffy Rice: Also, if you don’t live in Wisconsin, you should be following this race. And if you don’t live in Wisconsin, you should know when the next usual elections are in your state because these are very important elections and conservatives have basically taken them over. So just a note from your resident fake lawyer. I did go to law school and pass the bar. That’s enough. From Trump to Goop, there’s been a panoply of juicy court drama in the news this past week, but we wanted to give a hopeful update on a story that had thus far been a bit of a drag. The controversial Tennessee law targeting drag performers, which would broadly criminalize what it defined as, quote, “adult cabaret entertainment.” That law was blocked by a federal judge last Friday, hours before it was set to take effect. Judge Thomas Parker ordered a 14 day temporary restraining order against the bill on behalf of the Memphis based LGBT advocacy and theater group Friends of Georgia’s, who sued on the grounds that the bill violated their First Amendment rights. Said a spokesperson for Friends of Georgia’s quote, “We won because this is a bad law. We look forward to our day in court where the rights for all Tennesseans will be affirmed.” The art of drag performance will live to deathdrop another day.
Tre’vell Anderson: I know that’s right.
Josie Duffy Rice: We’re not out of the woods yet. 14 days is not enough.
Tre’vell Anderson: 14 days is not enough. We are still holding out hope and whatnot, but we will take this little bit of a win.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: Okay.
Josie Duffy Rice: Sure will.
Tre’vell Anderson: We could use something to smile about.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yup, absolutely.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yesterday, NASA announced a history making roster of astronauts for their first moon expedition in 50 years as part of its Artemis program. The crew will include the first Black, first female and first Canadian astronauts ever assigned to a NASA lunar mission. Joining Commander Reid Wiseman will be astronauts Victor Glover, Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen. Their mission is simple. Pilot NASA’s Orion capsule around the moon and return back to Earth. The ten day endeavor, which NASA seeks to complete by late 2024, will be a warm up for a two person moon landing set for around 2025. While the astronauts for that mission have not been selected yet, NASA announced in April of 2021 that it intends to land the first woman, as well as the first person of color on their next trip to the moon’s surface.
Josie Duffy Rice: [clip of tapping clicking sounds plays] Oh, God. Mm mm. Okay. You may have thought that was a weird mistake with your audio system, but it wasn’t. To sort of kind of quote Prince, this is what it sounds like when plants cry. [laughter] I wish I was kidding. I wish I was kidding. A team of scientists at Tel Aviv University discovered that when in conditions of drought or stress, plants were shown to emit a ultrasonic sound of suffering, the sounds you’ve just heard have been pitched down and sped up, in their organic form the typical human ear wouldn’t be able to pick up on the distress signals, but the scientists posit that animals with a more acute sense of hearing like bats, mice, and moths may live in a world filled with tiny plant sounds. While the noises are most apparent when the plants are water deprived or have recently been trimmed. They aren’t necessarily screams of agony. The popping sound seems to be caused by increased bubble formation in the plant’s xylem, the tubes responsible for transporting water and nutrients throughout their stem and root systems. Listen, I’m done with science. I’m done with it. [laugher] In the past weekish we have covered plant crying.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: T-rex’s having lips, don’t like it. And a meatball made out of Mammoth meat which we didn’t even discuss the size of. I’ve now seen a picture of it. It’s huge. [laughter] And I think science should relax. I don’t need to feel bad about plants crying.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I mean, I don’t feel bad.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m sorry.
Tre’vell Anderson: I am thinking that perhaps, you know, the small jungle that I now have in my home is probably making a whole lot of noise that I can’t hear because I’m sure it could use some water or something. Um. So I will take care of that as soon as we finish recording.
Josie Duffy Rice: I don’t know. I’ve learned way too much.
Tre’vell Anderson: Science is real Josie.
Josie Duffy Rice: I believe in it and I’m over it. [laughter] And those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Kindly water your screaming houseplants and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just about our constitutional right to serve like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
[spoken together] And get to the polls Wisconsin.
Tre’vell Anderson: I always want to say Wiscansin because of T-Pain.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yep. T-Pain and–
Tre’vell Anderson: But.
Josie Duffy Rice: –Justin Timberlake. Phenomenal song.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know.
Josie Duffy Rice: I bet if Mr. Conservative wins, he’s going to make that song illegal. [laughter] Just kidding. That’s a joke. [laughter] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.