First Starbucks in Missouri files petition to unionize

One of 54 locations in 19 states to join Workers United

By SHERI GASSAWAY
Correspondent

UNION STRONG: The AFL-CIO is requesting those who use the Starbucks mobile app to order their coffee and use “Union Strong” or “Union Yes” as their first name to show support for Starbucks workers who are organizing and to encourage employees at other local stores to unionize. Photo – SB Workers United Facebook page

Kansas City, MO – The Country Club Plaza Starbucks here is the first location in Missouri to file a petition to unionize with the National Labor Relations Board, a trend that’s rapidly gaining traction across the nation.

The organizing partners at the store sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson on Jan. 31 announcing their intention – the same day another nearby Starbucks in Overland Park, Kan. filed its petition to organize.

“We stand in solidarity with the organizing partners in the community at the 75th Street/I-35 store in Overland Park as well as those across the country in exercising our civil right to unionize,” the 17 employees wrote. “We stand against the unethical, expensive, anti-worker campaign Starbucks has waged against that right.”

BREWING SOLIDARITY: The Country Club Plaza Starbucks in Kansas City is the first location in Missouri to file a petition to unionize. It’s one of 54 locations in 19 states working to organize with Workers United, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). – Carlos Moreno/KCUR 98.3 photo

Workers United, which backed the campaigns in Buffalo, New York in December, is organizing with the two Kansas City area locations.

Workers United Missouri State Director Eric Moore told FOX 2 News that his union has seen dedicated Starbucks partners risk their lives and livelihoods for the past two years to provide quality services during a pandemic – all while their employer rakes in record profits.

“Our union stands in solidarity with these frontline service workers as they fight for a safer place to work, their fair share of the wealth they create, and the right to be treated as true partners by Starbucks management,” Moore wrote in the statement.

SOLIDARITY BREWING
In December, two Starbucks in Buffalo, N.Y. became the first locations in the United States to organize and vote in a union. Those two stores are now part of 54 Starbucks in 19 states that filed for union elections through Starbucks Workers United, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Starbuck’s response when workers were voting in Buffalo included flying out top-level management and even the founder of the company Howard Schultz, according to an article on ucommblog.com. They also moved around staff with the hope of diluting the pro-union vote.

However, as more and more stores file for union elections, the company is facing the prospect of having to fight multiple, separate elections at locations across the country, the article states. And the elections aren’t just restricted to strong union states like New York or California. They are happening in states like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Colorado and Kansas.

Fifteen Starbucks stores, including the two Kansas City-area stores, announced their intent to organize on Jan. 31, which was also the first day of bargaining for the two Buffalo-area locations.

“This quickly becomes a problem of scale for Starbucks,” tweeted Dave Jamieson, a HuffPost Labor reporter. “When it’s just a handful of stores you can bring all your pressure to bear on them to stamp this out. But at this rate, they’re literally going to run out of managers they can parachute in to try and stop this.”

HIGHER PRICES, PROFITS AND CEO PAY
Starbucks announced a price hike on Feb. 2 – just four months after another price hike, according to a post on Labor411.com – and says it will continue to increase prices in response to inflation, the Omicron variant and “a tight labor market.”

To believe the company’s PR, the price hikes are apparently not related to Johnson’s recent 40 percent salary increase, and are unavoidable despite Starbucks’ profit soaring by 31 percent in the last three months of last year to $816 million.

ORDER YOUR COFFEE ‘UNION STRONG’
In a show of support for Starbucks workers who are organizing and to encourage employees at your local store to unionize, the AFL-CIO is requesting those who use the Starbucks mobile app to order their coffee and insert “Union Strong” or “Union Yes” into their name on the order.

“If you have the Starbucks app, it’s super easy to change your first name to ‘Union Yes’ so it appears on all orders,” the AFL-CIO said in a tweet to Starbucks Workers United. “Time to order all drinks ‘Union Yes!’”

For more information, visit workersunited.org. To get updates on the union’s nationwide Starbucks campaign, follow it on Facebook at facebook.com/sbworkersunited. Starbucks workers interested in organizing can reach out to the union on Facebook or send an email to facebook.com/sbworkersunited.


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