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City Council backs Seattle Starbucks unionization efforts

The Seattle City Council on Tuesday added its voice to support unionizing Starbucks workers on Capitol Hill and at cafes across the city.

In a resolution from District 3 representative Kshama Sawant supporting the employees at her home district’s Broadway at Denny shop, six council members including Sawant vote to approve the symbolic resolution “expressing the Seattle City Council’s support for workers at Starbucks in Seattle who are attempting to form a union.”

“The Seattle City Council believes that this unionization drive will benefit not only Starbucks workers, but all workers in Seattle,” the resolution passed Tuesday reads.

The 6-0 vote was unanimous but council members Alex Pedersen and Sara Nelson declined to support the statements, utilizing the council’s new resolution loophole to abstain and be marked absent from the vote. “I was not elected to take symbolic votes,” Nelson said later via social media. “I was elected by people who want to see progress on our major issues, and I promised to focus on doing just that.”

Lisa Herbold, meanwhile, was not present for the meeting in a planned absence and missed the vote.

In addition to adding its support to the union efforts, the council’s resolution voiced support for “card check neutrality,” a growing movement to replace or augment elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board with negotiated agreements between union representatives.

“The Seattle City Council urges Starbucks to do the same and accept card check neutrality and allow their workforce to discuss unionization free from threats, intimidation, anti-union propaganda, and lawsuits,” the council resolution brough by Sawant’s office reads. “If Starbucks workers in Seattle unionize, the Seattle City Council urges Starbucks to bargain a fair contract such that the workers can have good standards of living and the company’s overwhelming wealth does not flow just to the top executives and shareholders.”

“This means so so much to workers in Seattle and all of us in the movement,” Broadway at Denny Starbucks worker Rachel Ybarra said after the vote. “The hometown of Starbucks is telling SB to stop this disgusting behavior and let us organizing in peace.”

CHS reported here on the efforts by Ybarra and others at the Broadway shop to join Starbucks unionization pushes across the country amid a wave of labor 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. Smaller entities are also part of the changing mood around labor including the Broadway location of second hand clothing chain Crossroads Trading.

 

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CD Resident
CD Resident
4 months ago

Sawant is not a city council person, she’s a union rep.

Come on right now
Come on right now
4 months ago

Love Sara Nelson’s message on this topic.

Whether you support unionization at Starbucks or not, you cannot convince me that this is anything other than grandstanding and a waste of the city council’s time.

HTS3
HTS3
4 months ago

Exactly right, Sara Nelson is already establishing herself as a voice of reason, a voice for doing the job we elect our council to do. Instead of focusing on the long list of challenges our city faces, these other members, led by Sawant, insist on these meaningless “support” votes that have nothing to do with their jobs. If they want to support movements as individuals, fine. But not as representatives of ours. Every moment spent discussing this and voting by the council is time and effort lost to the problems at hand.

Kevin
Kevin
4 months ago

Thank you Sara!

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
4 months ago

Whether you support unionization at Starbucks or not, you cannot convince me that this is anything other than grandstanding and a waste of the city council’s time.

Not surprising that someone who treats her employees like she does would be anti-union. Then again, she’s never pretended to be pro-employee rights.

JCW
JCW
4 months ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

Nothing in that statement is anti-union. She’s rightly calling out the fact that this is not what the council is elected to do. I’m glad there’s at least one voice on SCC that’s willing to say so.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
4 months ago
Reply to  JCW

She’s rightly calling out the fact that this is not what the council is elected to do.

Support for employee rights is absolutely an issue I consider when voting for my councilmembers and I’m not the only one.

She does not support employee rights and is doubling down on that. We’ll see how that works out for her in a very pro-worker city in a very pro-worker state.

JCW
JCW
4 months ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

Oh, my guess is she’ll be just fine.

CH Reader
CH Reader
4 months ago

Thousands of people sleeping on the streets amongst piles of garbage and this is how the City Council spends its time?

Kevin
Kevin
4 months ago
Reply to  CH Reader

Not to mention spiking violent crimes…

The word you are looking for is tone deaf.

Peter
Peter
4 months ago

Sara Nelson is already useless. Can’t wait to vote her out.

HTS3
HTS3
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Useless? Because she declined to vote on a meaningless message that accomplishes nothing. Most of these council members are nothing more than toddlers stomping their feet about the injustices of nap time.