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Starbucks Workers United says Broadway shop wants to unionize

(Image: Studio Meng Strazzara)

A growing movement to unionize workers at Starbucks stores includes a push to organize at Broadway and Denny, one of the company’s four stand-alone shops on Capitol Hill.

“We do not see our desire to unionize as a reaction to specific policies, events, or changes, but rather a commitment to growing the company and the quality of our work,” a letter to company CEO Kevin Johnson posted by the Starbucks Workers United organization reads. “We see unionizing as a fundamental and necessary way to participate in Starbucks and Its future as Partners. Starbucks. mission—to nurture and inspire the human spirit – one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time—can only be achieved if partners have an organized voice to advocate for what those moments look like.”

In the letter, four workers request that Johnson sign a “Fair Election Principles” document “and respect our and future partners’ rights to organize without fear of retribution” at the Broadway and Denny store.

The letter from the four workers representing the “Starbucks Workers United Organizing Committee—Broadway & Denny” represents only the start of the process. Employees at the location must still vote on the proposed organization and whether they want to collectively bargain over pay and working conditions.

Starbucks has not yet publicly responded.

The effort is one of a handful currently underway across the country to unionize workers at the $129 billion Seattle-based company. Starbucks said this week it will bargain “in good faith” with workers at the Buffalo, New York store that became the first to unionize in the company’s history earlier this month.

It comes amid growing efforts to organize labor at some of the largest companies in the nation that experts say align with the pandemic, record job openings, and rising expectations for better pay and working conditions.

Around Capitol Hill, efforts have also included companies much smaller than Starbucks. In 2020, CHS reported on the unionization of workers at Capitol Hill’s Elliott Bay Book Company. And earlier this year, workers at Central District pot shop Ponder became the latest to organize in a spreading movement to unionize the state’s cannabis industry.

The Broadway and Denny Starbucks is the company’s newest Capitol Hill stand-alone shop though the company said its 2017 opening was technically a “move” of its Broadway and Republican store. The company reduced its Capitol Hill presence quietly during the pandemic, shuttering its Pike and Broadway store permanently in mid-2020 — though it took until mid-2021 for CHS to sort out that the plywood-covered windows were going to stay that way. Through 2020, its Capitol Hill-area and downtown stores were frequent targets for property damage during protests.

Workers in Capitol Hill’s indie coffee shop scene, meanwhile, remain non-unionized though in 2019, employees walked out at E Pike’s Caffe Vita over firings and policies regarding providing free food and coffee to homeless customers. The company was purchased the next year by Deming Maclise who said improving Vita’s relationship with workers was a priority.

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27 days ago

Surprising it’s taking this long to unionize Starbucks, Amazon, etc. Collective representation is essential in a company that big, no matter how benevolent and “people focused” it claims to be, because individual employees can’t meet with the higher-ups directly. I’ve never worked at Starbucks but typically in major corporations there is no clearly defined — or even informally acceptable — way to engage with anyone above one’s own direct supervisor (no, the HR department doesn’t count). That is not a situation anyone should ever be in by oneself.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
25 days ago
Reply to  CKathes

Our country is still reeling from an entire generation (boomers) dismantling the one thing (collective bargaining) that allowed their parents and grandparents to acquire and pass along wealth to them. They screwed over their children and grandchildren, who now have to once again fight for basic worker rights.

This time around the large corporations don’t have the Pinkertons to fight back, they have the might of the US government, which has anti-workers rights codified into both laws and corrupt legislators.