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Starbucks Unionisation Wave Continues in the US as 100th Store Votes in Favour

Currently, 100 stores across 25 states have joined the Starbucks Workers United while 150 others are awaiting polls.
Starbucks Unionisation Wave Continues in the US as 100th Store Votes in Favour

Image Courtesy: Starbucks Workers United/Facebook

The share of unionised Starbucks locations in the United States is increasing, with a store in Eastlake, Seattle, becoming the 100th store to have voted to unionise.  

According to Seattle-based Komo News, the Eastlake store employees won their vote 12-0 on May 27. The other store in United States that held the vote on the same day voted 6-3 in favour, according to the report. 

Interestingly, Starbucks started in Seattle. The first Starbucks store was founded by Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker, and Zev Siegl, in 1971 near the Pike Place Market in Seattle. 

A day earlier, the Starbucks store on Birmingham's 20th Street South became Alabama's first of the coffee chain to back unionisation after a 27-1 vote. 

Currently, 100 stores across 25 states have joined the Starbucks Workers United while 150 others are awaiting polls. The latest addition of stores come after pro-unionisation votes late last week in Seattle and Birmingham, Alabama, according to reports. The Starbucks Workers United has won an astounding 88% of elections held so far.

After the votes, on May 28, US Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted saying, “Congratulations to Starbucks Workers United for winning the 100th union election at Starbucks coffee shops all over America. I say to Howard Schultz: Stop the union busting. Obey the law. Negotiate a fair contract with your workers now – no more delays. Enough is enough.”  

Sanders has previously backed the unionisation efforts. He wrote to Starbucks CEO Schultz when he resumed his position as CEO of the company this year, saying, "If Starbucks can afford to spend $20 billion on stock buybacks and dividends and provide a $20 million compensation package to its CEO, it can afford a unionized workforce that can collectively bargain for better wages, better benefits, safer working conditions and reliable schedule." 

"Please respect the Constitution of the United States and do not illegally hamper the efforts of your employees to unionize," Sanders wrote in his letter sent to the billionaire CEO in March. 

Starbucks has until later this week to file any objections with the National Labor Relations Board, the Associated Press reported on Sunday. 

Workers at hundreds of Starbucks stores have filed to unionize since the first successful union drive in Buffalo, New York late last year. 

Trying to fight the push back from the union, Starbucks on May 3 said it would hike wages for tenured workers and offer double training for new employees in stores that have not unionised, the CNBC reported. At the time, around 50 company-owned cafes had voted to unionise. Starbucks said such benefits at unionised stores would have to come through bargaining. Despite these efforts, more and more baristas at the coffee chain stores have voted to unionise. 

In total, Starbucks said it planned to spend USD 1 billion on wage hikes, improved training and store innovation during the financial year 2022-23. 

Following the announcement on May 3, the Starbucks Workers United Organizing Committee said in a statement to CNBC that “These benefits, including ones we’ve demanded since the beginning of our campaign, are a response to our organizing efforts and we should celebrate the hard work that partners who stood up to Howard Schultz’s bullying put in to make this happen.” The statement added, “Many of the proposed benefits have been proposed at the bargaining table in Buffalo.” 

The May 3 announcement marked the third wage hike for the baristas since the company-owned stores in Buffalo, New York, filed a petition to unionise. In October 2021, under the leadership of former CEO Kevin Johnson, Starbucks had announced two wage hikes that would bring its pay floor up to USD 15 an hour by August, CNBC reported. 

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