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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Starbucks on State Street votes in favor of unionization

An overwhelming number of State Street Starbucks employees voted in favor of unionization in hopes of beginning negotiations for better working conditions and treatment.

State Street Starbucks employees voted in favor of unionization June 1 in the U.S. District Court building in Madison.

Of the 22 shift supervisors, part-time baristas and full-time baristas who voted, 20 voted in favor of organizing the union. The State Street cafe is now the company’s fifth store in Dane County to file for unionization and the second store to successfully form a union. 

The National Labor Relations Board must officially certify the union as negotiations being with Starbucks, according to the Cap Times. Certification typically takes a few days. Starbucks shift supervisor and union organizer Matthew Cartwright told The Daily Cardinal he is “excited” and “hopeful” to begin negotiations.

Employees at the State Street location made the decision to form a union in April due to “intimidation, labor cuts and unclear standards” from the company’s upper management, according to a signed letter to Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan. In the letter, workers stated unionization was the best way to protect workers and allow them representation. 

“As a flagship store we cannot sit silent as Starbucks continues to refuse to the table to bargain with stores who have duly elected unions,” the letter read. 

Cartwright told The Daily Cardinal workers felt intimidated and threatened for considering forming a union. 

“We saw anti-union flyers appear in work and break areas as well as the targeted removal of any union flyers, information packets, or anything pro-union or pro-free information,” Cartwright said. “We also started getting anti-union talks from management.”

Despite these suppression attempts — which employees labeled “union busting” — the store refused to be “scared into submission,” according to Cartwright. 

Starbucks continues to deny the allegations. In an email to the Daily Cardinal, a Starbucks spokesperson claims they “respect the rights of all partners to make their own decisions about union representations.” 

“We are committed to engaging in good faith collective bargaining for each store where a union has been appropriately certified,” the email read. “Starbucks has fully honored the process laid out by the NLRB and remains fully committed to our partners' right to engage in lawful labor activities.”

Employees are beginning plans for future negotiations between the union and the company, according to Cartwright. 

“It looks like the next steps will be working closely with other unionized partners and workers united, choosing a representative for the national committee, then finally trying our best to get Starbucks to negotiate in good faith,” he said. 

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Workers hope with the union vote passing, Starbucks will recognize the union and “all other unions across the country, that they treat us all fairly, and that they finally sit at the bargaining table,” Cartwright said. 

“This victory is just another confirmation of workers, particularly young workers, resolve and dedication to fight for a brighter future for all,” Cartwright added. 

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Marin Rosen

Marin Rosen is the City News Editor at The Daily Cardinal and a second-year journalism student. Throughout her time at the Cardinal, she's written articles for city and state news. Follow her on Twitter at @marin_rosen

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