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Amid union-busting, Starbucks workers just keep organizing

Renton Village store becomes 29th in state to file for union election


SEATTLE (Jan. 30, 2024) — If Starbucks executives thought the company’s aggressive and illegal anti-union efforts would eventually wear down employees and that enthusiasm would wane for joining together in a union, they were wrong. On Monday, employees at yet another local Starbucks store in Renton Village demanded a union election, saying “business has repeatedly been prioritized over partners’ physical and mental health.”

Amid management’s union-busting campaign, Starbucks workers just keep organizing.

There are now 483 Starbucks stores in 46 states that have filed to unionize. Of those, 385 Starbucks stores in 43 states have won union elections, a nearly 80 percent win rate. In Washington state, 29 stores have filed for union elections and Starbucks workers have voted “Union Yes!” in 24 of them, with one outcome pending a challenge, one election yet to be held (in Renton Village), and just three rejecting the union.

It’s been more than two years since the Starbucks Workers United organizing wave began in December 2021 with workers in Buffalo, N.Y. And yet, none of them have a union contract. The biggest holdup is that the company is refusing to hold “hybrid” contract negotiations where some members of the union bargaining team can join via video conference because they often have conflicts with school and work.

In December, Starbucks sent a letter to Starbucks Workers United saying, “the current impasse should not be acceptable to either of us,” and the company vowed to finalize all union contracts in 2024. But the offer came with a major caveat: the company still refuses anything other than in-person bargaining meetings. As Steven Greenhouse wrote for In These Times:

Starbucks says it wants to bargain. Its behavior suggests otherwise. The company’s message is, ​We’re saying we want to resume negotiations, but we will do so only if the union surrenders to us on this important hybrid bargaining issue.” That doesn’t seem like a conducive way or sincere way to resume contract talks.

“Starbucks walked out on us during union bargaining!” — @UnionTyler, 10-24-22

Meanwhile, the Teamsters union, which represents Starbucks workers at a store in Greensburg, Penn., and has agreed to in-person-only negotiations, has now filed a lawsuit against Starbucks for “a protracted campaign of bad faith and surface bargaining.” Bloomberg reported last month:

In last month’s complaint, the Teamsters accused the company of obstruction and disrespect. “Starbucks will insist on repeatedly discussing the same proposal without changing its position whatsoever,” the union’s filing states. “Starbucks negotiators show up to meetings an average of 45 minutes late.” It also alleges the company’s representatives “mockingly belittled, demeaned and antagonized” union members and accused them of lying when they raised safety concerns.

Starbucks’ ongoing union-busting and refusal to negotiate with its unionized employees is harming the company’s brand among a new generation of young people — nearly 90 percent of whom support unions.

This month, students at University of Washington joined students at other colleges across the country in urging their universities to cut ties with Starbucks and get the company off campuses.


CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!