Starbucks workers in Seattle won their union with a unanimous vote on Tuesday, becoming the first store in the company’s hometown to form a union in several decades.
Workers voted 9-0 in favor of forming a union at Broadway and Denny, making it the seventh location to join SEIU-affiliated Workers United. The company is currently in the midst a fierce union campaign across the country and this win is a big victory.
“We are so excited to win our union unanimously and for what this means for the national movement. Our victory is going to make other Starbucks partners confident and show that we can organize Starbucks,” said Sydney Durkin, a shift supervisor at Broadway and Denny. “This is what happens when workers stand together and fight together.”
Workers claim that Broadway and Denny, which filed to unionize last December, is a popular stop for corporate employees on their way home from work. The store is located in incoming CEO Howard Schultz’s home district and is only 10 minutes by car from Starbucks’s headquarters in downtown Seattle.
Workers claim that although the company has used aggressive union-busting strategies in other parts, it has treated Seattle’s prounion employees with much more respect. While the company tried to union bust by singling out individual workers during the first weeks of their campaign, the union busting stopped abruptly after a month, which was “really jarring,” said Rachel Ybarra, a barista at Broadway and Denny.
“It’s hard not to think that it has to do with who Starbucks is choosing to discipline. Buffalo was the first to file, so it got hit hard,” said Ybarra. “But Mesa and Memphis – almost all the organizers they’ve fired have been of color. It’s impossible not to notice that.”
Ybarra added that it was “disgusting” that the company turned other stores into a “warzone” while giving Seattle organizers special treatment.
The workers condemned Starbucks’ union busting and demanded that the company live up to its progressive principles.
“There’s a right side of history and a wrong side of history, and right now, Starbucks is on the wrong side of history,” Durkin said. “Union rights are civil rights, and Howard Schultz’ old union busting tactics won’t work here.”
Schultz is about to assume the role of interim CEO for Kevin Johnson. Schultz is being praised by workers. Is being brought back inEspecially for his union-busting abilities; several Starbucks locations and a roasteryThey were unionized during the 1980s, but the union was decertified during Schultz’s leadership of the company in the 1990s. Schultz described unionization in his 1999 memoir as a personal affront to himself and his leadership.
Legislators have been critical of the union-busting campaign. Schultz in a letter sent by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) on Tuesday, Sanders called on Schultz and the company to stop union busting and “obey the law.” The lawmaker pointed out that the U.S. Constitution guarantees workers the right to organize.