Baristas win union election at Starbucks in Los Angeles – Daily News

on Jan9
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Workers at a Starbucks in Los Angeles have voted to unionize, marking the 33rd California location to join Starbucks Workers United.

The 11-3 vote was delivered Friday, Jan. 4.

The move to organize has grown rapidly in recent years, with more than 370 Starbucks stores in 41 states and Washington, D.C. unionizing since December 2021, despite heavy pushback from the coffee chain.

Also see: Starbucks ‘illegally’ closed 6 Los Angeles-area stores after union formation, feds says

Locally, that includes locations in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Huntington Beach.

Andrew Gillespie, a shift supervisor at the 5757 Wilshire Blvd. location in LA, said management tried to dissuade workers from joining the union.

“At first, they said they wanted to let us know that the company was behind us,” the 26-year-old LA resident said. “But then they started posting signs and said our benefits could go away if we unionized. They also said, ‘We can make that raise you’ve been asking for happen if you vote no.’ “

More on Starbucks: Audit finds chain ‘missteps’ but no ‘antiunion playbook’

The raise management was referring to is an automatic pay hike workers already get each year, Gillespie said.

“The starting wage for Starbucks employees in California is $17 an hour, but under the contract we drafted, no one would make less than $20 an hour,” he said.

In a statement issued Monday, Starbucks said the National Labor Relations Board must still certify the outcome of Friday’s vote. And before that, both sides have the opportunity to challenge individual ballots.

More on unions: Nearly a million US union members got double-digit raises this year

If the vote is certified, negotiations will move forward. The statement didn’t address allegations that the company has attempted to block workers from unionizing.

In a Dec. 8 letter sent to Starbucks Workers United, Starbucks Chief Partner Officer Sara Kelly proposed a path forward for bargaining sessions that could begin later this month.

If the union agrees to the guidelines, labor negotiations would be conducted without video, audio feeds or recording so that “all participants are comfortable with open, honest discussions,” Kelly said.

“We are open to hearing other ideas and rules of engagement on how bargaining could proceed,” she said.

Baristas are demanding that Starbucks end illegal union-busting tactics and bargain in good faith with workers who voted to form a union.

In more than three dozen separate decisions, federal judges have found that Starbucks committed more than 300 violations of federal labor law, the union said. Those violations include 38 unlawful firings, refusing to bargain and unlawfully providing non-union workers higher wages and better benefits than workers who voted to join the union.

Starbucks, which denies violating labor laws, has responded with mixed signals about its willingness to negotiate with the union. The company announced early last month that it was seeking to restart negotiations at unionized stores, only one of which has held bargaining sessions over the past six months.

Workers at the Wilshire Boulevard store have joined an expanding movement of more than 9,000 baristas nationwide seeking to unionize.

Baristas recently won changes to Starbucks’ mobile-order policy following a Nov. 16 “Red Cup Rebellion” that saw more than 5,000 Starbucks workers walk out at more than 150 locations across dozens of states.

The protests resulted in customers no longer being able to place mobile orders while in stores, many of which are understaffed and already busy.

Gillespie said understaffing is a real problem.

“Starbucks is looked at as fast food, but the actual work that goes into it is very hands-on,” he said. “It takes time, and when you’re short two people the work slows down, but the volume of customers doesn’t.”

The LA store has been recognized through customer surveys as a high-performing location, prompting the company to give bonuses to upper management, Gillespie said.

But employees?

“We got balloons,” he said. “Eventually, our manager gave us a little party. But it was paid for out of our own pockets.”

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