Seattle Starbucks location votes to become first on West Coast to unionize

Mar 22, 2022, 1:32 PM | Updated: Mar 23, 2022, 6:47 am
Starbucks Center in Seattle. (Flickr Creative Commons)
(Flickr Creative Commons)

The Starbucks in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood at Broadway and Denny has successfully voted to unionize through the National Labor Relations Board. Tuesday’s vote was unanimous on a 9-0 margin.

The push for labor representation with the coffee giant now stretches from coast to coast: To date, seven locations throughout the United States have successfully voted to unionize, and at least 140 locations in 27 states have filed for union elections among the chain’s 9,000 outlets.

Starbucks’ hometown has seen at least five other locations file for union elections. Last week, two locations submitted NLRB filings: Union Station and Eastlake Avenue. The other three, which have filed in waves since December, are the Westlake drive-thru, Fifth Avenue and Pike Street, and 1124 Pike Street.

Seattle’s flagship Starbucks location throws weight behind nationwide unionization push

The Broadway and Denny location’s unionization push has been in motion since late December, challenged in court by Starbucks Corporation that ultimately went in the union’s favor.

Organizing members with the location tell MyNorthwest that the court challenge was a “stalling tactic.” Starbucks Corporation’s argument was that the NLRB filings should exist at the district level, rather than through individual outlets.

Last week, Kevin Johnson, CEO and president of Starbucks, acknowledged the unionization push in front of shareholders as he announced his intention to step down from his leadership role, ushering in the return of Howard Schultz as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found.

The reference to the growing desire for labor representation among Johnson’s stores came as an asset management firm representing shareholders labeled the company’s anti-union actions as “incongruent with national labor and international human rights laws.” They requested that Starbucks “proceed in good faith with other unions as they form across the country.”

The desire for labor representation among certain Seattle baristas has drawn the attention of city leaders. In February, Seattle’s city council passed a resolution that formalized its support and called on the coffee company to ease the unionization process. Councilmember Kshama Sawant has ushered Starbucks organizing members from across the county to the steps of Starbucks Center, the beverage company’s international headquarters.

National Starbucks unionization echoes in Seattle City Hall as ‘misinformation’ accusations fly

To date, Tuesday’s vote represents the seventh Starbucks location nationwide to unionize: five have done so in Buffalo, New York; one in Mesa, Arizona.

The Denny and Broadway company is represented by Starbucks Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union

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Seattle Starbucks location votes to become first on West Coast to unionize