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Downtown Cincinnati Starbucks workers move toward unionization

The store is located at 4th and Vine streets
Posted at 3:00 PM, Apr 13, 2022

CINCINNATI — Starbucks workers at a downtown Cincinnati store are demanding recognition of unionization after sharing a letter Tuesday detailing their issues with the company’s lack of corporate support and assistance.

Located at the intersection of 4th and Vine streets in downtown Cincinnati, the Starbucks store is demanding the corporation recognize its union, CMRJB Workers United (SEIU). In doing so, Starbucks would be acknowledging all "permanent hourly full-time and part-time employees" at the store as the “sole and exclusive bargaining agent.” This agreement would exclude any store or assistant store managers.

The letter was signed by 14 of the store’s employees, and it states unionization efforts are to ensure every Starbucks worker has their voice heard as well as to create a healthier work environment.

In the letter, Starbucks employees detail the absence of support from the corporate side of Starbucks.

“Starbucks prides itself on its mission to ‘nurture the human spirit’ — our experience has not reflected that mission statement,” the letter reads. “Corporate management in recent years has failed its partners by being nothing short of neglectful.”

The choice to unionize echoes other efforts at Starbucks stores around the country. In February, seven employees were fired from a Memphis Starbucks. The employees claimed the firings were retaliation for an intent to unionize, though the company claimed those workers violated policies.

Prior to that, a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York marked the first Starbucks store to successfully unionize.

“While the labor movement surges around us, we cannot stand idly by,” the Cincinnati Starbucks store writes. “We are joining in solidarity, a solidarity that will allow us an equal voice.”

Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges indicated in a New York Times article the company's stance on its stores unionizing. The statement came after a court ruled in February that Starbucks workers seeking to unionize in a geographic area don't have to vote in a single union election, which the company argued for.

"Our position since the beginning has been that all partners in a market or district deserve the right to vote on a decision that will impact them,” Borges said. “We will continue to respect the N.L.R.B.’s process and advocate for our partners’ ability to make their voices heard.”

In a statement to WCPO, Starbucks said the store and its unions will become their best versions "by co-creating our future directly as partners."

"And we will strengthen the Starbucks community by upholding each other’s dreams; upholding the standards and rituals of the company; celebrating partner individuality and voice; and upholding behaviors of mutual respect and dignity," the statement read.

7 Starbucks employees fired are unionization attempt
Unionization efforts are increasing across Starbucks nationwide