Workers at Everett Starbucks are voting to unite

EVERETT is a barista at Everett Starbucks 13-1 voted for the union on Wednesday, joining more than a hundred Starbucks stores that have joined unions across the country since December.

Employees of the store on Broadway and 37th Street voted to join the Workers United union. The union office gives workers the right to bargain with a network of coffee shops in Seattle for payment and benefits.

Jacob Fullerton, shift manager at Everett Cafe, said he and his colleagues expected victory. Several people gathered in the lobby of a laptop store to watch the vote count live.

From the beginning, Fullerton said, the union’s efforts “were to give workers a real say in terms of work and compensation.”

When employees filed a petition for union elections in late January, 29 people were eligible to vote. Fullerton said some have since left the store or not voted.

So far Everett store is one of two in Snahomish County that have joined the union. Another enters Maryville on 27th Avenue and 172nd Street NE. The three-week election began on Tuesday, and its results will be announced on June 21.

The union action began late last summer at Starbucks stores in Buffalo, New York. Since then, employees of 286 stores have applied for union elections in more than 30 states, according to Starbucks Law360 union tracker.

As of Wednesday, 104 stores have successfully merged into a union – part of approximately 9,000 Starbucks cafes run by the company in the United States. Meanwhile, workers from at least 10 stores have dropped out of the union.

Starbucks has long opposed union membership. “From the beginning, we made it clear that we are better together as partners, without an alliance between us, and that belief has not changed,” a Starbucks spokesman said in an e-mail statement in April.

Now Everett Starbucks employees have a difficult task to sign the first contract. This is a process that often takes a year or more, said a labor expert Associated Press last week. Only three union-linked stores – in Buffalo, New York, and Mesa, Arizona – began bidding.

Fullerton said Everett store employees are optimistic.

“When we went public in January, we were one of 35 stores,” he said. “Now we are in 100 stores. It’s gaining momentum. ”

In the contract, Fullerton said, workers would like to see higher wages to keep up with inflation and changes in vacation policies. He said hourly workers cannot get leave after just one year of work, which is the standard for many retail jobs.

In an email Wednesday, a Starbucks spokesman said “the company will respect this process and will trade in good faith, guided by our principles. We hope the union will do the same. ”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told investors on a call on earnings on May 3 that the union contract “does not even come close” to what Starbucks offers, according to call decryption.

Against the backdrop of the union push, Starbucks announced pay raises, advanced training, credit card tips and technology improvements. The increase in wages and benefits will cover 240,000 workers in 8,800 stores, with the exception of unionized stores, Schultz said during the interview.

Schultz argued that federal labor law prohibits companies from extending these benefits to union-linked stores. But labor experts said the tactic was intended to prevent unions, and the company could offer benefits through negotiations, the AP reported.

In Everett, Starbucks customers have shown support for the union, Fullerton said.

“In general, tips have increased,” he said.

The company, he said, does not support. He said Starbucks “tried to make it look like we were bad guys who wanted to merge our store.”

According to the AP, the National Labor Council has filed 56 complaints against Starbucks for violating labor laws, including firing workers for supporting unions. Starbucks, meanwhile, has filed two complaints with Workers United for allegedly harassing and intimidating workers.

Fullerton said the move to the union was led by workers.

“It was 100% motivated to go out and do it,” he said. “Otherwise it wouldn’t have happened.”

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; jacqueline.allison@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jacq_allison.


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