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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Starbucks workers score major symbolic Seattle win as US unionization wave expands

In a hugely symbolic union win, workers at a Seattle location of Starbucks have voted unanimously to unionize. The result was announced by the National Labor Relations Board on March 22. Seattle is the hometown of the coffee chain giant.

This news comes as SB Workers United announces nearly daily new union drives at various Starbucks locations across the United States.

In the last few days alone these have included announcements from Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina and other states.

On March 18 a store in Oregon became the 150th to file for an election. This is all in the wake of two locations in Buffalo, New York becoming the first US Starbucks stores to vote to unionize in December. Since then seven in total have had successful union votes.

Starbucks is trying to stop this momentum at all cost.

As the Service Employees International Union, with which SB Workers United is affiliated, noted in a press release at the end of February:

Starbucks, who made $4 billion in profits last fiscal year, has hired the law firm Littler Mendelson, one of the most notorious union-busting outfits in the country, to run their anti-union campaign.
Thus far, workers have faced an all-out union-busting effort from Starbucks. The company’s campaign has included mandatory anti-union group and individual meetings (including with Howard Schultz, former Chairman and CEO of the company), frequent store visits by company executives, and worse. They’ve added a barrage of new hires at stores who have filed for elections in an attempt to dilute the number of pro-union votes, and have cut the hours and even fired workers who are active in the organizing drives. This includes firing seven employees at a store in Memphis.

Given this, the fact that the union drive is spreading like wildfire is all the more remarkable.

It may yet provide inspiration to the many millions of service workers in other companies and chains to organize for the higher wages, better working conditions and fairer treatment that they both need and deserve.

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