University Circle Starbucks is Fourth Cleveland Store that Wants to Form a Union

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click to enlarge University Circle Starbucks is Fourth Cleveland Store that Wants to Form a Union
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Workers at the Starbucks location on Euclid Avenue in University Circle have declared their intent to unionize, becoming the fourth store in Northeast Ohio to join the nationwide movement.

In a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson sent Monday, workers echoed many of the sentiments expressed by baristas at other local locations who have filed for union elections. Broadly speaking, they believe that a union will give them a seat at the table in making decisions, especially those that affect them directly.

"Our baristas deserve respectable compensation for the skilled work and immense resilience that is expected at this job," the letter read. "We deserve the opportunity for growth and change, especially as the demand for our services grows and the global pandemic changes the conditions under which we work."

The workers accused Starbucks corporate of acting in bad faith, implying that a union would be unnecessary as workers are already compensated competitively and have access to benefits. The letter said that this posture from bosses demonstrated their "complete disconnect" from the daily struggles workers face.

"Our choice to file for a [union] election is not to demonize Starbucks but to uphold the mission and values we have always stood by," the letter read. "We will not bend to unethical union-busting tactics and ask for accountability for the ways in which you have put the livelihoods of our partners at risk."

As with the other three locations in Northeast Ohio that have filed for union elections — W. 6th, Clifton Boulevard, Mayfield and Lee — Starbucks corporate could voluntarily recognize the union. (It is unlikely to do so.) Alternately, when the National Labor Relations Board holds a vote, a simple majority of the location's workers is all that's necessary to formalize the union.

Across Cleveland and the country, Starbucks workers are unionizing with Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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