Hundreds march through Downtown Seattle to support newly unionized Starbucks employees

Apr 24, 2022, 1:14 PM | Updated: 1:18 pm
Starbucks march...
Hundreds marched through Downtown Seattle on Saturday to support newly unionized Starbucks employees (via KIRO 7 News)
(via KIRO 7 News)

Hundreds marched into downtown Seattle in support of Starbucks’ newly unionized workers, despite harrowing stories from around the country.

The march was part of a push to organize workers at two Seattle corporate giants.

This latest push comes as the flagship Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle voted to unionize this week.

So far, Workers United says it has organized 25 other Starbucks stores around the country.

At the center of that fight here is Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

Sawant has been giving up part of her salary to support causes like this one.

Sawant’s contribution is how union organizers were able to bring Starbucks workers here from around the country.

Workers came here to Cal Anderson Park to share their stories and add their voices to what they say is a national movement to unionize Starbucks, as well as Amazon.

Hundreds of people, many of them workers at Starbucks in the Emerald City and beyond, took to the streets of Seattle. Here, they said, they intended to send a message to newly reappointed CEO Howard Schultz.

Their chants rang out as they made their way to Westlake Park unescorted by Seattle police, giving a boost to workers on the front lines.

“Oh, I love this stuff,” said Billie Adeosun. “This is, this is our most powerful weapon.”

Adeosun works at an Olympia Starbucks which, she says, was the first on the West Coast to start to organize, although workers did not undergo the effort without trepidation. Now she is watching the union movement catch fire among her peers.

“We’re showing (newly reinstated CEO) Howard Schultz, and we’re showing other corporations that are just like Starbucks, that we’re not going to be silenced,” said Adeosun, “that we’re not going to stop.”

Just last Thursday, the Workers United union squeaked out a victory at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, the 26th yes vote so far at the Seattle-based coffee giant.

“I think a big part of it was just the teamwork amongst all the partners at the Roastery,” said Liz Duran, a Roastery worker for one year.

But there were less triumphant stories from Starbucks workers that Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant flew in from around the country.

“This month would have been my third year until I was fired April 11th,” said Hannah Whitbeck, from Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I was fired for leaving a barista in the store alone without contacting management.”

Now Sawant is inviting workers to join in protest on May 1, May Day.

As for the Olympia Starbucks workers who started the union movement here, they expect to find out the results of their union vote next Friday.

So, stay tuned.

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Hundreds march through Downtown Seattle to support newly unionized Starbucks employees