Milwaukee Starbucks workers are unionizing

Milwaukee — Starbucks workers continue to unite in stores across the country, as today workers at the Marquette location filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to unionize with Starbucks Workers United.

Workers sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan to announce their organizing campaign. In the letter, workers explained they’re unionizing as “ever-growing frustrations within the store continue to be ignored,” and workers “cannot craft the Starbucks standard of beverages” with tools “in constant disrepair” and crushing workloads.

“After months—and for some, years—of being disrespected and ignored by upper management, our partners are tired of looking to them for solutions. We’ve been inevitably led to the formation of a union, one that can provide the security that our coworkers and friends have been asking to have for far too long,” said Ian Shurbet (he/him), who has worked as a Starbucks barista for the last year and a half.

“Starbucks claims to support every partner, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every partner at this store is struggling in a variety of ways when they shouldn’t have to and we are sick of it. We deserve fair compensation for our work, to feel like we actually have job security, and just basic respect. At this point, unionizing is the only way we can get anywhere near these goals,” added Xylia Trask (they/she), a shift supervisor at the Marquette location who has been with Starbucks for two-and-a-half years.

The Marquette partners join a quickly expanding nationwide movement of over 9,000 baristas organizing together for justice, fighting for improvements on core issues including respect, living wages, racial and gender equity, and fair scheduling. The historic organizing campaign, one of the most successful in decades, hinges on peer-to-peer organizing led by workers, for workers – and has won election after election in stores nationwide.

Workers continue to organize and take direct action, recently winning essential changes to Starbucks mobile order policy after a massive “Red Cup Rebellion” with more than 5,000 Starbucks workers walking out at more than 150 locations across dozens of states. They are demanding 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 administrative law judges have found that Starbucks has committed more than 300 violations of federal labor law, including 38 unlawful firings, refusing to bargain, and unlawfully providing non-union workers higher wages and better benefits than workers who voted to form a union.

Still, Starbucks union workers remain determined in their demand for fair pay and hours, safe working conditions, and a commitment to quality and culture that reflects the Starbucks brand they built.

Since December 2021, more than 380 Starbucks stores in 42 states and the District of Columbia have successfully unionized—more than any other company in the 21st Century, as Starbucks Workers United has taken the industry and world by storm. More victories are expected to be announced soon, as partners at stores across the country continue to come together to transform their jobs and their industry.