The Potluck

Workers at 3rd Minnesota Starbucks move to unionize

By: - March 23, 2022 3:41 pm

A Starbucks on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Workers at a third Starbucks store in Minnesota announced their intention to unionize on Tuesday, joining a national wave of union drives that has reached more than 150 Starbucks locations across the country.

“We believe that unionizing veritably equalizes us at the table when we come together to create practical, sustainable, and fair solutions to the challenges we face every day in our store,” wrote five workers at a store in St. Anthony in a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

An “overwhelming majority” of the workers at the St. Anthony location — at 3704 Silver Lake Road N.E. —  signed union authorization cards with Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, according to union spokesman Esau Chavez.

Workers at stores in St. Paul and Minneapolis moved to form a union last month.

Starbucks has declined to voluntarily recognize unions at its stores, instead requiring workers vote in an official election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

The NLRB certified the first union at one of Starbucks’ roughly 9,000 corporate-owned stores in December in Buffalo, N.Y. Since then, workers at six other locations have voted to unionize — all in Buffalo except for one in Mesa, Ariz. Workers at just one store ultimately voted against unionizing.

A spokesperson for Starbucks declined to comment on the latest union petition, instead pointing to a December statement from Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks North America, on the first successful union vote in Buffalo.

Workers at the two Starbucks locations in St. Paul and Minneapolis who petitioned for a union in February will receive ballots in early April, with results to be announced near the end of the month.

More than 20 workers will vote at the St. Paul location at 300 Snelling Ave. S. and nearly 30 workers will vote at the Minneapolis location at 4712 Cedar Ave.

While public support for unions is the highest it’s been in generations, union membership across the country remains near all-time lows.

Despite news of union drives sweeping across the service sector, union membership in Minnesota has stayed mostly flat, with the percentage of union members in the state ticking up from 15.8% in 2020 to 16% in 2021. Over the same period, the union membership rate nationally decreased slightly from 10.8% to 10.3%.

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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.

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