More Michigan Starbucks locations join union campaign

Unionized Starbucks locations doubled from four to eight in Michigan in just one week.

Workers in Ann Arbor and Lansing have joined the organizing campaign that is gaining momentum nationwide. The Starbucks Workers United movement began after two stores in Buffalo, New York were the first to unionize in Starbucks’ 50-year history.

The reasons for unionization vary by store, but the overall goal is to gain more power in the workplace, Pete DeMay said after sites in Grand Blanc and Clinton Township announced unionization in late January. . DeMay is the organizing director of Workers United in the Midwest, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

Workers United helped organize the union effort in Buffalo where the first store voted to join SEIU in December. At Michigan’s eight stores, DeMay estimates that 200 workers have joined efforts to unionize.

“I think Buffalo has definitely demonstrated to the rest of the country that you can take on a multi-billion dollar giant like Starbucks and win,” DeMay said. “Now Starbucks workers understand they need to come together across the country in order to get a fair deal.”

In response to the Buffalo union vote in December, Rossann Williams, executive vice president and president of Starbucks North America, issued a statement saying that “the results of the vote will not change our common purpose or the way we will introduce ourselves to each other”.

Starbucks’ stance on unions has been “pro-partner,” but not necessarily “pro-union.” The company argues that a union is not necessary since health care, paid vacation and tuition are already offered and employee feedback has been implemented. Starbucks calls its employees “partners” because employees who stay with the company for at least one year receive stock.

Starbucks employees in Ann Arbor, however, say their input and feedback was ignored. In an emailed letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, workers said:

“We regularly experience abuse from indifferent customers, while lean hiring practices mean we have very little time to respond to negative or positive customer interactions. We have been asked to act as as therapists or sponsors for our homeless population…without training or additional compensation. We have put our lives on the line to serve the public and contribute to the success of this endeavour. Things have to change. We have to move from a system that treats partners as disposable employees to a true, more sustainable partnership.

Michigan’s site organization includes the following:

  • 2624 Lansing Lake Road, Lansing, MI 48912
  • 222 S State, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • 1214 South University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 and
  • 300 Main Street South, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • 120 S. Zeeb Road, Suite 101 in Ann Arbor MI, 48103
  • 17410 Hall Road, Clinton Township MI, 48038
  • 4585 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor MI, 48108 and
  • 11353 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc MI, 48439

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