Workers at two Starbucks locations in Southern California voted this week to form a union, with workers seeking to improve working conditions at the internationally renowned coffee shops. Workers at the locations — Redondo and Seventh Street in Long Beach, and Rowland and Citrus Ave. in Covina — sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz outlining their intention to form a union that, if approved, could have profound implications for other union efforts at corporate restaurants in Southern California. At the very least, they would become the first unionized Starbucks in the region.
Since December, Starbucks employees across the country have said they face low wages and difficult working conditions. Add to that more than two years of increased customer volume during the pandemic and speak of minimal benefits and increased cost of living (plus similar union movements at Chipotle and McDonald’s), and it’s easy to imagine the current wave of unionization spreading across the country. to understand . Within five a month, 40 union members Starbucks is formed nationwide.
The massive coffee company is seen as particularly sympathetic to union efforts, with organizers claiming Starbucks is deeply involved in union-breaking practices. Starbucks management encouraged employees to vote against unionization; they filed complaints against the union with the National Labor Relations Board; and they allegedly fired workers involved in union organizing.
Earlier this month, a meeting between Schultz and Long Beach Starbucks employees was tense. Long Beach Starbucks employees and Schultz met at the Long Beach Airport, which began in early April with a videotaped speech by Schultz criticizing Starbucks Workers United, reports the New York Post† During a question-and-answer session, barista Madison Hall — who leads the union effort for that location — asked Schultz about reports that Starbucks was firing employees who participated in union organizing. Hall said Schultz cut her off and replied, “If you hate Starbucks so much, why don’t you go somewhere else?”
The Long Beach venue should have the voting results by mid-May, NBC-4 reports. Covina Starbucks employees say voting is planned for the next four to six weeks. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia expressed his support for the workers in a tweet.
Really proud that our Long Beach Starbucks in Redondo and 7th is on the cusp of becoming Southern California’s first unionized Starbucks. Stopped by today to support the workers as they get organised. Congratulations and thank you pic.twitter.com/HF4HMllUSv
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarcia) Apr 24, 2022