Bridges Starbucks employees vote to unionize

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 1:09 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Employees at a Roanoke Starbucks have voted to unionize.

The Bridges Starbucks store is one of 85 stores in the company taking part in a larger labor rights movement that is spreading throughout the 9,000 Starbucks locations across the country.

The first vote came from a store in Buffalo, New York, whose employees, also known as partners, began the Starbucks Workers United movement.

“We’re partners, not numbers,” said barista Campbell Land. “We want a say in how our company executes its mission because we believe the mission’s lost and we’re here to help fix it.”

Baristas and community members showed their support at a rally at the Bridges store over the weekend, and this week, supporters of the baristas are showing it while still sipping their favorite Starbucks drinks.

“A lot of people for their mobile orders or their names are putting union yes or solidarity. We’ve been getting a lot of tips which we’ve been very thankful for,” says tenured employee Eska Morris, a supervisor at the location who has been with the company for ten years. “Everything on our Facebook pages and the likes and everything, it’s really amazing the support we’re getting from the community.”

Morris says partners like her are fighting for better pay and COVID-19 safety measures.

“If we have to wear masks I think the customers should also have to wear masks,” explained Morris. “We’ve been struggling with call-outs and isolating and everything its just been hard and some support would be nice every now and then.”

Organizers we talked to say they’re working with the National Labor Relations Board and the national Starbucks Workers United organization on their next steps.

We reached out to Starbucks Media Relations Team for comment on the movement.

We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country.

From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. Starbucks success—past, present, and future—is built on how we partner together, always with Our Mission and Values at our core.

As Rossann Williams, evp and president, North America, recently shared with our partners “the vote outcomes will not change our shared purpose or how we will show up for each other. … We will keep listening, we will keep connecting and we will keep being in service of one another because that’s what we’ve always done and what it means to be partner.”

Starbucks spokesperson

Starbucks has also made announced investments cumulating $1 billion in annual wages and benefits over the last two years.

In December 2020, the company bumped up starting wages by 5% and then gave a 10% raise to all baristas and supervisors; tenured partners got 11%.

An announcement made in the summer of 2021 declared the minimum wage would be increased to $12 in all stores effective October 2021; employees hired before July 2021 received a 5% raise, with tenured partners (2 years or more) getting a 6% raise.

Starting in Summer 2022, U.S. hourly partners will average nearly $17/ hr. with a new range of $15-$23 for baristas.

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