Starbucks Unionization


Meadow Myers, Silver Streams Editor/ Co-Editor/ Staff Writer

Across the United States, Starbucks employees are taking a stand. The rapid unionization of Starbucks began in Buffalo, New York early in December. After the spark struck, over 100 stores applied for unionization in over 20 states across the U.S, creating a lasting movement for the entire Starbucks organization.

What is a union?

A union is a collective of workers who come together in order to gain better wages and make decisions for the betterment of the employees. Every worker has the right to join a union under U.S law. A downside to joining a union is the dues that are used to pay for wages during a strike, as well as a loss of autonomy.

What are the employees fighting for?

By creating a union, workers will no longer be fired on a whim or have unequal wages or benefits compared to their peers. By unionizing, the store becomes more of a democracy and allows employees to negotiate and the ability to elect representatives to serve each store across the country. 

According to Starbucks Workers United (the leading organization in unionization), “We will have the right to negotiate a union contract and have a real voice in setting organization policies, rights on the job, health and safety conditions, protections from unfair firings or unfair discipline, seniority rights, leaves of absence rights, benefits, wages, etc.”

Who is leading the campaign?

According to Starbucks Workers United, many of the organizers are women or nonbinary people and over 70% of their staff is female. With their age range being in their early 20s, many people are calling them “Generation U for union.”

Where are the campaigns?

Within South Carolina, Greenville was the first store to vote on unionization, and they were quickly followed by Anderson and Columbia, all of which were successful. Across the United States, 36 stores have filed for union membership and so far 30 have been successful.

A leading union organizer, Richard Bensinger, shared, “This is a historic triumph for democracy and the rule of law that a billionaire CEO must apologize to employees for abusing them and violating their rights as well as making them whole.”

It will be interesting if Starbucks will lead more corporations and businesses across our nation to follow in the same footsteps.