SEIU abandons its front by unionizing Starbucks

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Starbucks’ organizing is starting to look a lot more like a traditional organizing campaign.

Supporters had insisted the movement, which now spans 103 stores, was an artisanal phenomenon occurring spontaneously across the chain’s national arm. The story held that the baristas-turned-organizers were labor neophytes who found they shared a desire to have more of a say in brand direction and store operations, without any choreography from a labor force. external work. Few reports even mentioned that militant employees received advice or financial support from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) through its affiliate Workers United.

But on Tuesday, Workers United came out from behind the curtain to highlight its role and note its success in organizing the chain. “Make no mistake, we have momentum,” Workers United President Lynne Fox said in a statement.

She called on Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to recognize the union’s progress by meeting her for a chat.

The SEIU is the second largest union in the country, with approximately 2 million members.

The group’s press release says the number of Starbucks stores seeking to form a Workers United collective bargaining unit has more than doubled in the past three weeks. He also implores baristas in units still on the fringes to join the movement, echoing the words of workers who have signed up.

We are excited to join the movement and hope to help inspire more partners across the country to join us in solidarity! Denver Martin, partner at Willow Lawn Starbucks in Richmond, Va., reportedly said. His store is one of the last to apply to the National Labor Relations Board for permission to hold a vote to become a union store.

Employees at stores in Buffalo, New York, where the movement began last August, revealed that Workers United was paying legal fees for filing a petition with the regulatory board.

The acknowledgment of Workers United’s role in organizing Starbucks comes as the chain itself settles into a more conventional defensive stance against unionization. Last week, the coffee giant released a new section on its website highlighting its aversion to being organized and highlighting some of the negative implications that pro-union employees may have missed, such as the withdrawal of dues from their paychecks. and someone negotiating their pay. other.

This move was quickly overruled by pro-union forces within the chain as part of Starbucks’ efforts to bust the union.

Despite the new tone both parties are adopting in their public disclosures, only two of the approximately 10,000 Starbucks-operated stores in North America have unionized. Both are in Buffalo.

Several units in Mesa, Ariz., completed their union polls last week, but the announcement of the results was postponed due to a challenge by Starbucks to the legitimacy of several votes. The NLRB seized the ballots and opened an investigation.

Approximately 7,000 Starbucks in North America are operated by licensees, including colleges, transportation hubs and concessionaires. At least some of these stores are operated by unionized employees.

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