Workers at a Starbucks in Royal Oak seeks to unionize as movement grows in Michigan

Twelve Starbucks stores in Michigan have formed a union since May.

click to enlarge Twelves Starbucks stores in Michigan have voted to unionize. - Shutterstock.com
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Twelves Starbucks stores in Michigan have voted to unionize.

A Starbucks store in Royal Oak petitioned to form a union on Tuesday as the labor movement continues to gain momentum among baristas at the coffee giant.

In an email to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on Friday, workers at the store at 300 S. Main St. said they were growing frustrated with management.

“Our pleas and suggestions as workers have fallen upon obstinate ears with upper management and we have come to the conclusion that unionization is the only feasible solution to remedy the problems we face on the floor and in the economic environment in this country,” they wrote.

The petition was filed with the National Labor Relations Board. Once approved, workers can hold an official election to unionize.

An overwhelming majority of the store’s workers also signed union authorization cards, according to Workers United.

“Starbucks is a multimillion dollar corporation that tries to pride itself on working in partnership with its employees, all while silencing the workers and denying them their right to union representation and a collective voice,” Workers United International Vice President Kathy Hanshew said. “Starbucks calls its employees ‘partners,’ but it is abundantly clear that this so-called partnership is one of convenience for the company, that leaves many employee concerns unheard. It is time for Starbucks to do the right thing, acknowledge the voice of their ‘partners,’ and allow their workers to unionize without interference.”

Twelve Starbucks stores in Michigan have formed a union, with a store in Bloomfield Township becoming the latest last week.

Since December, at least 247 Starbucks stores in 35 states have voted to unionize, according to A More Perfect Union, a nonprofit that tracks labor unions. Only 54 stores have lost an election to unionize.

Baristas are asking for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Michigan joined the movement in May, when Starbucks workers at 2480 Burton St. in Grand Rapids voted in favor of forming a union, 15-3.

On June 7, four Starbucks stores in Ann Arbor voted to unionize. One Ann Arbor store voted against it.

Two days later, four more Starbucks stores in Clinton Township, Lansing, Flint, and East Lansing voted to form a union. A store in Grand Blanc voted not to unionize.

On June 17, a Starbucks store in Ypsilanti voted to unionize.

Workers voted to join a union at a Starbucks in Mount Pleasant on Sept. 12.

The labor movement has grown beyond Starbucks. In Detroit, employees at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co. went on strike in February as part of a move to unionize. In August, the workers withdrew from an election to form a union because the company has been closing its stores.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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