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Starbucks union drive marks first year

New York Teacher
A woman stands at a podium and a man behind her is smiling and holding a sign supporting Starbucks unions
Brad Alter

UFT Vice President Janella Hinds tells the Starbucks Workers United members, “We will stand with you until every single Starbucks worker has a union contract.”

To mark the one-year anniversary of the Starbucks union movement, the company’s workers held rallies on Dec. 9 in 10 cities nationwide, including New York City.

The New York City rally at City Hall Park drew more than 200 people, including a large contingent from city labor unions.

“Together we can move mountains, let alone a coffee company. We will stand with you until every single Starbucks worker has a union contract,” said UFT Vice President Janella Hinds, who is also the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO New York City Central Labor Council.

Workers at a Starbucks in upstate Buffalo, New York, were the first to vote to join Starbucks Workers United on Dec. 9, 2021. Over the next 12 months, 270 Starbucks stores across 36 states and the District of Columbia, accounting for 7,000 workers, have unionized. In April, the Starbucks roastery in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market became the first flagship store to unionize.

Starbucks union activists say Starbucks has not negotiated in good faith with workers from the unionized stores, as it is legally required to do.

“Starbucks has refused to recognize the union or negotiate in any way with us,” one Starbucks Workers United activist said at the New York City rally.

Starbucks Workers United accused the company of firing about 150 workers in retaliation for union activity.

The National Labor Relations Board has cited the company for more than 900 violations of federal labor law.

Hal Battjes, a barista at the Times Square Starbucks Pickup & Amazon Go location, told the crowd, “There’s nothing this company is more scared of than its own workers.”

The scale and pace of the national Starbucks union drive is unprecedented in recent labor history.

“This campaign has caught fire and you have inspired working people around the country to stand up and make their voices heard,” said Hinds.

Related Topics: Labor issues