Workers at a Starbucks store in Bloomfield voted 20 to 0 to unionize, according to labor organizersmaking the store the first global chain location in Pennsylvania to take such a step.
The National Labor Relations Board counted the vote on Wednesday afternoon, although it has yet to certify the result. Yet with the apparent victory of union organizers, the Liberty Ave. joined about 20 other Starbucks stores nationwide that have chosen since December to form a union.
The movement continues to grow with staff at more than 210 of the company’s approximately 9,000 sites across the country holding their own union elections. Newly reinstated Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz has a history of opposing unionsand union organizers accuse the channel of trying to thwart their efforts.
BLOOMFIELD STARBUCKS IS THE FIRST STARBUCKS UNION IN PENNSYLVANIA WITH A UNANIMOUS 20-0 VOTE!!!!!
— Pittsburgh Starbucks Workers United (@pghsbuxunited) April 13, 2022
But a company spokesperson said: “Any allegation of union busting is categorically false. We are committed to following the NLRB process.
Additionally, she said, “We are listening and learning from these store partners, as we always do across the country. (Starbucks refers to its employees as partners.)
In Pennsylvania, workers at 11 Starbucks stores have called on the NLRB to unionize. Six are located in the Pittsburgh area. In addition to the Bloomfield location, they include stores in downtown Pittsburgh’s Market Square, East Carson Street in the South Side, South Craig Street in Oakland, Amos Hall in Oakland, and the North Side in McKnight. Road in Ross Township. Elections for Amos Hall employees begin April 21, with a vote count scheduled for May 6.
Organizing efforts among local Starbucks workers follow a successful unionization this winter at the local chain The Coffee Tree Roasters.
“We need a better salary. … We want better benefits. We want better health care. We want things like a guaranteed tip rate,” said Jake Welsh, shift manager at Bloomfield Starbucks.
“But really, I think the most important thing for me,” he added, “is just having…a say in the workplace, a seat at the table where we can make democratic decisions about our working conditions because right now we’re basically just operating in the hope that Starbucks will do the right thing, which isn’t a guarantee, and they certainly don’t not always done the right thing.
Welsh served on the Bloomfield store’s union organizing committee and can join the bargaining unit even as a supervisor because he has no authority to hire, fire or discipline workers. Baristas were also eligible to vote on whether to join Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The workers submitted their ballots by mail over a period of about two weeks.
A Starbucks spokesperson acknowledged that the company’s minimum wage rate has been $12 an hour since the fall. But she said that rate will increase to $15 an hour this summer, with hourly wages for baristas averaging $17. Entire categories of workers have received increases ranging from 5% to 11% over the past year and a half, the spokesperson also said.
And though employees across the country have complained about their working hours being cut amid rising unionization, the spokesperson dismissed those claims as false. She said Starbucks adjusts worker hours in response to fluctuating consumer demand.
Welsh told Bloomfield that his hours and those of his colleagues have been reduced recently.
“I don’t make a lot of money, [so working fewer hours] definitely makes things tighter for me,” he said.
He said union representatives could push in employment contract negotiations for a guaranteed tip rate that would force Starbucks to make up the difference when customers’ tips don’t meet an established minimum. He noted that employees don’t receive tips from food delivery service apps or on in-person credit card purchases.
The rise of online orders has also put more pressure on workers, he added, by increasing the volume and complexity of orders.
The Starbucks spokesperson would not comment on the impact of mobile ordering on staff. But she repeated, “We listen and learn.”