Workers at more than 100 Starbucks stores in 27 states have filed union petitions for elections. In response, the company has launched a relentless anti-union effort.
In interviews, Starbucks workers tell In These Times that starting a union campaign is the first time they’ve felt hopeful in their adult lives. “A lot of us have gotten used to a sense of hopelessness and helplessness when it comes to our jobs,” says Rachel Ybarra, 22, an organizer at a Starbucks in Seattle. “But unionizing can give you a sense of agency,” Ybarra adds.
“If a union is involved, your coworkers have the power to go to bat for you.”
In Memphis, Tenn., Nikki Taylor, at age 32, is one of the oldest Starbucks baristas at the busy corner of Poplar Avenue and S. Highland Street. She says she feels like a mother figure to a “close-knit, regular barbecue-type family.” When she started as a shift supervisor two years ago, working in the café was a dream job — but this soon changed.