Michigan Starbucks workers join unionization wave

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click to enlarge Starbucks workers across the nation are moving to unionize. - Shutterstock
Starbucks workers across the nation are moving to unionize.

Workers at four Michigan Starbucks locations announced Friday that they are moving to unionize, joining other Starbucks workers across the country.

According to a press release, the workers are organizing with the Workers United International union that helped Starbucks workers successfully unionize the chain's first company-owned store in Buffalo, New York in December.

"We believe that a union will make us true partners of this company," workers at a Grand Blanc Starbucks wrote in a letter emailed to company CEO Kevin Johnson on Thursday, adding, "We feel that this union is the best chance we have at improving conditions and being able to make a sustainable, meaningful career."

According to the letter, the workers are protesting conditions at the store including the company ending hazard pay two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the company not requiring customers to wear masks in the building, and a lack of a fire escape.

While Starbucks has been known for its progressive ideals, including generous health care benefits, the workers say the company needs to do better.

"Starbucks is a multimillion-dollar corporation that boasts of working in partnership with its employees, all while attempting to silence workers by aggressively union-busting," Workers United International vice president Kathy Hanshew said in a statement. "Starbucks calls its employees 'partners,' but the partnership is merely one of convenience for the company that leaves many employee concerns unheard. It is time for Starbucks to treat their employees like true 'partners' and allow their workers to unionize without interference."

The workers are at stores at 120 S. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor; 4585 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor; 17410 Hall Rd., Clinton Township; and 11353 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc.

Workers United says an overwhelming majority of eligible employees at all four locations have signed union authorization cards, and all four groups will file petitions for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday.

Starbucks has more than 230,000 employees at about 9,000 stores across the country, according to The New York Times. Since the victory in Buffalo, workers at dozens of Starbucks locations across the U.S. have moved to unionize.

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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
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