From Seattle to Atlanta: Starbucks union push builds steam across nation

Jan 28, 2022, 9:56 AM
Starbucks union...
A sign from Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant's office in solidarity with Starbucks workers looking to unionize. (Kshama Sawant, Twitter)
(Kshama Sawant, Twitter)

A push among Starbucks workers to unionize has continued to grow across the United States.

Trio of Seattle Starbucks locations now pushing to unionize

Earlier this week, it was revealed that employees at three Starbucks locations in Seattle — at Fifth and Pike, Westlake, and Capitol Hill — have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for union elections.

This comes on the heels of a movement spurred by the successful union vote of a Buffalo, New York, Starbucks location in December. In the wake of that, workers at over 30 locations have looked to follow suit, with movements taking shape in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Richmond, Denver, Ithaca, Memphis, and Boston, among others.

Meanwhile, workers at stores looking to unionize claim that the company has engaged in unfair labor practices in its attempt to curtail their efforts. An unfair labor practices complaint was filed against Starbucks on Jan. 21, which alleges that the company “unlawfully disciplined a bargaining unit member in retaliation for her protected concerted activity in support of the Workers United organizing drive.”

That saw Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant dedicating $10,000 this week from her solidarity fund to Starbucks Workers United, the union representing labor organizing for locations across the country.

Starbucks employees at unionized store say it’s gone from ‘just a local issue to national’

Seattle workers also report that the company has held meetings with them to present a case against unionization. In Arizona, employees say the company has sent numerous coercive text messages to that effect as well.

“You can vote no even if you signed a union card or wore a pin,” one of the messages reads. “Your vote is secret and anyone who asks isn’t respecting your choice. Vote no to the tension the union has brought to your store.”

While the company has denied any claims of overt union busting, it also has intimated that it believes “a union is not necessary at Starbucks.”

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From Seattle to Atlanta: Starbucks union push builds steam across nation