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Starbucks Union Unveils Largest 1-Day Filing With 21 Stores Joining Effort

Nearly 500 Starbucks stores have filed for union representation so far.

Members and supporters of Starbucks Workers United protest outside of a Starbucks store in Dupont Circle on November 16, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

Starbucks workers in 21 locations across 14 states are filing to unionize on Tuesday, marking the highest number of stores petitioning to join Starbucks Workers United (SWU) on a single day in the union’s history, the group says.

The stores filing for a union Tuesday are located across the country, from Long Island, New York, to San Jose, California, with other filings coming from Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington, and elsewhere in California and New York.

In a joint letter sent to CEO Laxman Narasimhan signed by representatives from each of the 21 stores, workers cited similar problems as other stores that have filed for representation, including understaffing, cuts to hours and insufficient wages and benefits.

“We have worked through violent threats from customers, unsafe weather conditions, and a global pandemic. Despite our willingness to work regardless of this disregard for our health and safety, we have been met with higher and higher expectations without being given the resources to meet them,” the workers wrote.

“Starbucks’ profit driven behavior makes doing our jobs impossible,” they continued. “We cannot keep up with constant promotions, dilapidated equipment, and unclean stores. It’s clear to us now more than ever that this one-sided relationship is no longer working.”

SWU celebrated the move, saying, “A company that truly cares about its workers would cut the union-busting and bargain in good-faith already.”

The filings come as nearly 400 stores have won union elections, and nearly 500 stores have filed to unionize since the worker-led unionization effort launched in late 2021. They also come as Starbucks has so far refused to negotiate first contracts with the union, despite some stores having had their unions recognized by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for over two years now.

Tuesday’s announcement is a show of momentum from a union movement that has largely slowed since its original blitz of union filings in 2021 and 2022, with workers facing a fierce anti-union campaign from the company.

In turn, the company has broken federal labor laws dozens of times in attempting to quash the union’s campaign, with SWU alleging hundreds of violations of federal labor laws just over the past two years and change; according to Bloomberg Law, NLRB administrative law judges have found that Starbucks has violated labor law in 48 out of 49 cases so far.

At the same time, Starbucks is rebelling against labor law itself. Last week, Starbucks lawyers joined lawyers from SpaceX, Trader Joe’s and Amazon, which have all been organizing against union campaigns in their respective workplaces, in arguing for a case brought by SpaceX arguing that the very structure of the NLRB is unconstitutional. If a court sides with the companies and the NLRB is dismantled, it could be disastrous for the labor movement, which has made great strides in recent years.

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