104-year-old CP leader joins Starbucks workers on the picket line

BY: Roberta Wood| August 1, 2023
104-year-old CP leader joins Starbucks workers on the picket line


“No matter how big the company is, we workers are stronger when we’re united!” declared Beatrice Lumpkin at a noisy, spirited rally on July 14th in front of the Starbucks store in Chicago’s West Loop.

Lumpkin, a veteran member of the Communist Party, succinctly summarized the wisdom gleaned since her first union rally — 90 years ago, as she told the young strikers and their supporters.

In her book Always Bring a Crowd, Lumpkin recounts the struggles of her steelworker husband Frank Lumpkin. And true to form, the 104-year-old icon of this city’s labor movement brought her own crowd to the picketline: members of the Intergen Alliance and steelworker retirees.

The Starbucks workers who voted earlier this year 15–1 to unionize, closed the store for the day in solidarity with another unionized Starbucks in suburban Oak Park, where union supporters had been fired. Barrista Nicole Deming called out the hypocrisy of the coffee chain’s benefit plan.

“When a company offers benefits based on hours and then cuts your hours, that’s not a benefit.” Deming also called for higher wages — $20 per hour nationwide and $22.50 in high cost-of-living areas like Chicago. Deming herself had to leave the rally to go to her second job, she said, “but no one should have to work two jobs.”

Workers at the store and their supporters were still smarting from the disrespect they experienced from management during Pride month. Their response? Defiant buttons and t-shirts urging “Be Gay! Organize!”

Images: Roberta Wood / People’s World


    Roberta Wood, Secretary-Treasurer of the Communist Party, is a retired journeyman industrial instrument mechanic. A lifelong union activist, she was a founding co-chair of the United Steelworkers District 31 Women's Caucus. She writes on labor issues for peoplesworld.org. A Chicagoan, Roberta is married to Steelworker retiree Scott Marshall. Scott and Roberta have four daughters and seven grandchildren.

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