Starbucks Employees Take First Step Towards Unionization | Ohio News | Cincinnati

Click to enlarge

Photo: courtesy of the Starbucks media site

Employees at a Starbucks store in downtown Cleveland have asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union representation election.

Employees at a Starbucks store in downtown Cleveland have asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union representation election. The Cleveland Starbucks is reportedly the first Ohio store to unionize and follows similar efforts in locations across the country, including Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Seattle and elsewhere.

In a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson sent Monday morning, employees at the W. Sixth store said that while they were at the forefront of the customer service industry during the pandemic, they were not. are not felt sufficiently taken care of. With insufficient guidelines and safety measures, disillusionment and burnout are now commonplace.

Starbucks workers are euphemized as “partners” in company lingo, but workers say during the pandemic they felt more like “cogs of a machine.”

“We see unionization as the best way to achieve a true partnership, beyond the mere title of ‘partner’,” the letter read. “Through this union, we are committed to achieving our goals of improving our own work life, establishing fairness and equality within our store and the company, and doing our part to help. move the business forward. By adhering to these principles, Starbucks can prove that it is a partner with us in this commitment. ”

Cara Rovella, 22, is a barista and barista trainer at W. Sixth in Cleveland. She started working for the popular coffee chain in July of this year. She told our sister the diary Cleveland scene that she signed a union authorization card, with the overwhelming majority of her colleagues, for several reasons.

“A lot of people say COVID is the number one reason,” she said, “because we feel disappointed with the security measures our company put in place during the pandemic. But I’m a personal barista trainer, and the training plan just doesn’t… enough time to really teach people how to be a barista. ”

Salaries are another reason, Rovella said – both base salary and increases for long-tenured employees.

“The crux of all of these issues is that we just want to have a voice,” said Rovella. “Decisions at Starbucks are made from the top down. We just have to do as they tell us. But we’re the ones on the ground, working with the public. And we don’t think it’s realistic or just that we don’t. ‘have no say in how things are done. ”

Rovella said the organizing process has evolved extremely quickly and local workers have been inspired by the organizing effort at the Buffalo location.

“It made us think that if Buffalo can do it maybe we can too,” she said. “Once these things started to happen, people started to see the possibilities for themselves.”

Rovella said she suspected Starbucks would not voluntarily endorse the union in Cleveland and that, if Buffalo was a guide, the company would work to delay the vote and lobby against the organizing effort by a certain number of means. But when the National Labor Relations Board holds the vote, a simple majority of the site’s 20 workers is all that will be needed to form the union.

“At the end of the day, we all love working for Starbucks and do it because we are dedicated to work and want to improve jobs,” Rovella said. “I hope this can set the stage for others in the area, and people start to think, ‘Hey, we don’t have to be treated unfairly. We can stand up for ourselves.'”

This story was originally published by CityBeat’s sister newspaper, Cleveland Scene.

Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest news, things to do and places to eat straight to your inbox.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Comments are closed.