- Starbucks workers at a store in Mesa, Arizona, sent a letter Thursday to Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson announcing their intent to form a union and requesting Johnson sign a series of fair election principles.
- Starbucks Workers United, the group of organizing committees working to unionize Starbucks employees, announced the Mesa organizing committee had filed for a National Labor Relations Board union election, joining six Buffalo stores that have already filed to do so.
- Earlier this week, the Industrial Workers of the World and Burgerville settled what the chain claims is the first fast food union contract in American history, while Starbucks workers at three stores began voting on unionization last week.
The growth of Starbucks' union drive may reflect increased labor power in the restaurant industry, visible in one-day strikes in non-union restaurant locations, as the segment struggles to attract and retain workers.
It's also striking that union activity has spread from one side of the country to the other, which may signal that Starbucks Workers United, which is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, has momentum beyond the Buffalo Starbucks store where it first formed an organizing committee earlier this year. The union rumblings in Mesa, Arizona, may hint at wider employee discontent.
Still, the Starbucks workers at the Mesa store emphasized their commitment to Starbucks in their letter announcing their intent to unionize.
"We want the company to succeed and we want our work lives to be the best they can be," the organizing committee stated.
Three Starbucks locations in Buffalo have ongoing NLRB elections, and three more have petitioned the NLRB for elections. Workers affiliated with the organizing committee said in a Zoom interview they are confident of victory in at least one of the Buffalo stores, and claim Starbucks has engaged in anti-union campaigning.
Starbucks' actions, according to the Mesa organizing committee, have given the union a boost.
"We are aware of the anti union campaign that you and Rossann [Williams] plus other managers are waging in Buffalo. We are not intimidated but we are outraged," the letter states.
The Twitter account affiliated with Starbucks Workers United also alleged the Mesa organizing efforts were a direct response to Starbucks' handling of the Buffalo union drive.
On Thursday, Starbucks Workers United alleged Starbucks fired a manager at the Mesa store for sharing comments attributed to a district manager with the union in order to support the NLRB charges filed by the union accusing Starbucks of unfair labor practices.
"Brittany came forward after attending a meeting with her district manager, where the DM bragged that the company was sending a task force of corporate reps and managers to Buffalo to try to crush our union," a tweet from the account reads. "Brittany worried that Starbucks was putting her & her co-workers in a position where they would be violating other partners' right to organize."
Starbucks Workers United claimed, on Twitter, the firing was one of the reasons workers at the Mesa location decided to form an organizing committee, which is generally the first step in organizing a new union.
Both Starbucks and Starbucks Workers United did not respond to requests for comment before press time. Starbucks told Bloomberg in an email that its focus is on listening to employees.