Starbucks takes aim at St. Louis workers as they begin voting on joining a union


UNION-BUSTING AT ITS FINEST – Baristas at the Bridgeton Starbucks who are seeking to form a union found a little “surprise” in their tip envelopes recently – instructions from the coffee giant on how to vote NO in their upcoming election. – Photo courtesy of Maddie Hagan

Bridgeton, MO – Shortly after receiving their organizing ballots from the National Labor Relations Board, baristas at the Starbucks here in favor of joining a union saw their hours cut in a direct hit to their paychecks.

Sadly, it hasn’t been the only retaliatory effort the coffee giant has waged against workers at the Bridgeton location, which is one of seven St. Louis stores to file for a union election in recent weeks.

Management has frowned at several “Solidarity ‘Sip-ins” held there by groups of other local union members who showed up to support the workers, and on May 16, several Post-It notes containing encouraging messages from those union members and others were removed from a community board at the store.

WAS IT A GHOST? On May 16, Post-It notes containing encouraging messages from local union members and others supporting Bridgeton Starbucks workers mysteriously disappeared from the upper left-hand corner of this community board at the store. Workers have filed a complaint with the NLRB about the action. – Photo courtesy of Maddie Hagan

“Mysteriously, those messages have disappeared,” said Maddie Hagan, a barista and one of the organizers at the store. “Does Starbucks not consider people a part of our community if they’re pro-union?”

The following day, Hagan said she was flabbergasted to receive her tips for the day along with anti-union literature from the company explaining how to vote against joining the union.

“I got a guide on how to vote NO in my upcoming election IN MY TIP ENVELOPE,” she said. “This is especially ridiculous when my hours have been cut so bad I’m relying on my tips to eat on a regular basis.”

Hagan also said that management at the store has held two hour-long meetings for the employees at the Bridgeton location about organizing efforts that were “basically intimidation sessions you’re forced to go to where they bash unions.”

She noted that similar mandatory meetings have been called at other St. Louis Starbucks locations that are organizing, and that employees at the Ladue Starbucks were threatened to be sent home if they wrote “Union Yes” or “Union Strong” on a customer’s order – even if the customer requested it.

If you’ll remember, late last year the AFL-CIO urged union members to support their local Starbucks organizing efforts by typing in “Union Yes” or “Union Strong” when placing an order on the app.

Hagan said that unfair labor practice complaints have been filed with the NLRB about the mandatory meetings as well as the removal of union support notes from the store’s community board. Ballots will be counted for the Bridgeton and Clayton locations on June 13 via Zoom.

Nationally, Starbucks workers have filed petitions for union elections at more than 250 locations in 35 states, according to More than 75 stores have voted to unionize since the effort began last year.

In addition to reducing employees’ hours to the point of them being forced to seek additional employment to make ends meet, Starbucks has fired over 20 union leaders and announced a new benefits program for employees, but only for those stores that don’t join a union.

To assist the pro-union baristas at the St. Louis stores who’ve had their hours cut, the St. Louis Democratic Socialists of America has created a donation page to help them with their bills throughout the organizing process.

“They’ve helped me out greatly during these hard times,” said Alexia Onatah Fischer, another organizer at the Bridgeton store. “All proceeds go directly to St. Louis baristas in need. Please donate anything you can even if it’s a dollar.”

To donate, visit


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