One tearful manager described a violent, scary picket line outside her store—even though the protest had been covered by the media, with video showing a very different scene than the manager described. The manager who harassed and fired teenage shift supervisor Laila Dalton in Phoenix, Arizona, spoke at length about what she described as sincere efforts to get Dalton’s work up to standard—except Dalton already posted video of some of the interactions, and the National Labor Relations Board has filed charges against Starbucks for the retaliatory firing of Dalton and other workers in Phoenix. The consistent message from Starbucks upper management to Starbucks store managers is that the pro-union workers are enemies and probably not really Starbucks workers at all.
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The union representation votes happening in store after store show exactly how false those claims are. This week saw another flurry of votes counted, with an extremely strong majority ending in union wins—including in places like Augusta, Georgia, where one store went union on Thursday in a 26 to 5 vote. Less than 5% of workers in Georgia are union members.
There are now more than 40 unionized Starbucks stores across the country. This week alone, in addition to the Georgia store, Maryland, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Minnesota each got their first corporate-owned unionized Starbucks stores. In Eugene, Oregon, the union won four out of five stores that were counted on Thursday.
Workers are pushing back on management’s attempts to intimidate them or discredit them as real Starbucks workers.
When Sen. Bernie Sanders met with a group of workers, one told him about needing to work full-time through chemotherapy in order to afford the health care coverage to pay for the chemotherapy. Workers told Sanders how one of management’s responses to the union effort has been to flood stores with new workers so that the existing workers don’t get enough hours to pay their bills.
Similarly, California Starbucks worker Dulce Duarte told Teen Vogue, “A lot of us would work close to 30 hours a week, but I was [recently] cut [by] 11 hours per week, which did affect me — not only financially, but it also affected the way I’d support my family, as I live with my grandparents and my mom.” Nonetheless, Duarte said, “My advice to any baristas that are considering [organizing] would just be to go for it. Corporate calls us ‘partners,’ yet we’re not treated as such. The only way we’re going to be able to be heard is if we act and not be afraid. It’s definitely a scary thing going into it, but if everyone has each other’s back and everyone stands their ground and doesn’t let management or corporate convince you otherwise, baristas will come out on top.”
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