‘We Respect Their Rights’: Starbucks Workers Vote to Unionize, Contract Negotiations Planned

Problems on the job can lead workers to leave the job and head down the road to unionizing. – International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM)

Univision reports that Seattle-based Starbucks workers voted Monday to form a labor union, and that the vote now turns to setting up a first ever official bargaining unit, with representation negotiations with Starbucks expected to begin soon.

The process, however, is going to take time, according to the news website.

Employees told the news site they are excited about the proposed union.

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Starbucks workers have long complained of slow service, harsh treatment by store managers and the lack of benefits for workers. The company has countered that it has no control over how store managers treat workers.

In a statement to the website, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) said that the Chicago-based union hopes to represent all stores in the Midwest, given the size of the union’s membership in the area.

The IAM is the world’s largest union for workers in the aviation, aerospace and marine industries, representing both manufacturing and non-manufacturing workers. It counts a two million-member organization in the U.S. and nearly 60,000 union members in more than 40 countries, according to its website.

Workers who voted in support of the union will move forward with representation negotiations.

“Problems on the job can lead workers to leave the job and head down the road to unionizing,” Greg Totten, the national director of the IAM’s organizing department, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Monday.

Totten said he hopes the union can begin representing employees across the country at the first Starbucks store in line, which would be in St. Louis.

Starbucks replied in a statement to The Associated Press that it would try to stay close to its employees in any possible negotiations.

“We respect our partners’ rights to make decisions about their professional development and financial security, which is why we have implemented a range of programs for eligible partners to pursue training, mentorships and career advancement.”

On “Fox & Friends” today, Tribune Media executives explained that while the unionization effort is likely to turn out positive, it will still have challenges.

“We don’t think it’s necessarily going to be easy to unionize,” said Jacqueline Whitmore, Tribune Media’s executive vice president of human resources.

When asked what those challenges will be, she answered, “I don’t know what they are, I don’t know how they turn out.”

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