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Students demand UW cut ties with Starbucks over union-busting

SEATTLE (Jan. 10, 2024) — University of Washington students rallied in Lakeview Park on Jan. 7 to demand that UW President Ana Marie Cauce end the university’s contract with Starbucks. Flanked by larger-than-life coffee cups reading “Cut the Contract, President Cauce” and “Wake up and smell the union,” students amplified Starbucks workers’ bargaining demands and shared stories about what unions mean to the next generation of workers: college students.

Video of the rally is available here and here.

The rally was organized by UW students pushing their university to cut ties with Starbucks as a result of the coffee giant’s failure to bargain in good faith with workers to address staffing, scheduling and other issues harming baristas.

“UW and Starbucks are both heavily invested in their images as progressive institutions… however, the red line where the gloves come off is when their workers demand a seat at the table. Like Starbucks, UW claws back benefits from unionized workers to punish them for having the audacity to demand democracy in the workplace,” said UW research scientist and UAW 4121 member Jai Broome, highlighting the parallels between Starbucks workers’ fight for a union and UW academic researchers’ fight for a union.

Members of Students Against Starbucks chapters from across the country joined the UW rally in solidarity — showing the national breadth of the movement to pressure universities to cut ties with Starbucks.

Immediately after the rally, a group led by UW Seattle students hand-delivered union-brewed coffee to university President Cauce’s university-owned residence and demanded that University of Washington end its contract with Starbucks.

Sunday’s actions are the latest in a national campaign in which college students – one of Starbucks’ key customer demographics – show solidarity with Starbucks workers seeking to form a union and bargain for a fair contract by pushing their universities to cut ties with the coffee giant until it comes to the table with workers in good faith.

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