The Potluck

Starbucks workers vote for union at Mall of America store 

By: - June 22, 2022 3:41 pm

Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer

Workers at a Starbucks in the Mall of America voted to unionize 10-1, becoming the fourth store in Minnesota to unionize with SEIU affiliate Workers United. 

Baristas say the landslide victory at the Mall of America — on the first floor by the rotunda — is 14 years in the making. 

In 2008, barista Erik Forman alleged he was fired from the store for trying to organize a union, a claim substantiated by the National Labor Relations Board. Starbucks denied the allegation but later reinstated Forman. 

“This was due back in 2008 but now we finished what they started,” workers with the Mall of America organizing committee said in a statement on Wednesday, shortly after the NLRB tallied their votes. 

The successful union vote comes a week after workers narrowly voted down a union at a store in south Minneapolis in a rare defeat for an otherwise highly successful national campaign. Four other stores in Minnesota have filed for union elections. 

Workers at some 300 Starbucks stores across the country are seeking to unionize, and the vast majority have won elections with just 25 stores voting no.

The company, which operates some 9,000 coffee shops, faces allegations of illegal union busting across the country, including firing workers in Tennessee for their union activity. In Pennsylvania, an administrative law judge found the coffee chain illegally retaliated against two baristas.

Starbucks denies wrongdoing and has fired back with allegations of unfair labor practices against Workers United, saying union organizers bully, harass and intimidate workers.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.