Starbucks continues union busting

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By Maria Odenbaugh

I’ve been a Starbucks employee for nearly a year. This past year my confidence has risen immensely and I’ve learned to put myself out there gaining many great relationships.

I love my 4:30 a.m. opening shifts. I love the feeling of being one of the first people in someone’s day. I love the slowness of the store before the rush. It’s encouraging and puts a smile on my face watching people start their days.

However, respect is hard to come by as a Starbucks employee. As much as I love helping others start their day, sometimes we are only seen as machines. Machines who struggle with earning the respect from not only customers but the high all mighty’s of the corporation system.

I praise my job to anyone who asks, but I am never praising the Starbucks brand. I may not be a part of a unionized store but I understand the need for collective bargaining.

Representation is crucial for pushing for higher wages, better benefits and scheduling.

Over the past two years, over 200 corporate stores in the United States voted to unionize. That’s not a huge number considering there are 9,000 company operated stores nationwide but, that number gives hope and starts a movement.

Instead of listening and helping their employees find their voice, Starbucks engaged in  alleged illegal tactics to consistently bust up union attempts.

The National Labor Union Relations Board (NLRB) accused Starbucks of using suspect methods to eventually shut down their unionized stores. These strategies included raising wages, providing more benefits and closing stores.

Active organizing union stores were fully closed to threaten the workers. The temporary closing was deemed because of safety reasons but instead took away multiple labor hours from the baristas.

Starbucks never listened to its partners, instead they induced a range of activities to abruptly stop the idea of employees making the important decisions. Decisions that directly impact the employees.

These tactics began at the first stores to petition to unionize in Buffalo, New York.

What Starbucks did to the Buffalo stores took away the hope the employees worked so hard for.

If Starbucks continues these reactions they leave no room for baristas to continue to enjoy and progress in their jobs.

They denied all accusations of union busting, however they continue to oppose unionization efforts.

Recently, Senators sent a letter to CEO Howard Schultz urging them to, “listen to the voices of your partners who are joining together to create a fairer and safer workplace for all Starbucks employees by voluntarily recognizing unionization efforts and actively pursuing a nationwide agreement to provide coverage for all Starbucks employees.” If the U.S. Senate can acknowledge the movement, it’s time Schultz realizes he will be on the wrong side of a historic labor movement.

The corporation must be held accountable for the illegal tactics they constantly put pressure on union employees. However, we can not rely on the NLRB to win this fight. Partners need to build unity, spread the word and plan more strikes.

I love my job but I am fearful I won’t have any representation without unionizing.

To all the union employees who worked so hard the past couple of years, you are heard and the hope you gave me and other baristas is still there.

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