SBWorkers United — the Starbucks union representing 300+ Starbucks cafes around the country — is kicking up its publicity efforts several notches with the launch of “The Union is Calling” 13-city bus tour. The bus tour is meant to increase public attention and educate consumers about the union’s demands, including contract negotiations and putting a halt to alleged worker intimidation and union busting tactics.
“Our demands are reasonable. We are fighting for basic rights, like the right to work in a safe environment, yet Starbucks has still refused to come to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith,” said Michelle Eisen, a national SBWorkers United leader from Buffalo, N.Y. in a statement released by the union. “If Starbucks won’t come to the table, then we’re going to come to them. It’s time this company learns that union-busting is unacceptable, and our allies and customers are not going to accept it.”
The bus tour will stop in 13 cities, starting with Twin Cities, Minn., with other stops in key locations of heightened Starbucks union activity including Knoxville, Tenn; Buffalo, N.Y.; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle, Wash. The protesting baristas will be handing out flyers with QR codes on them that take interested parties to a signup sheet encouraging them to get involved in the campaign to start their own strikes and protests, and to help educate consumers about their cause.
The bus tour is designed around community involvement and education, with events including a community block party, a union panel, a rally, and a press conference at City Hall in Philadelphia later this summer, with the purpose of “bringing consumers into the campaign in a lasting way.”
In response to the news of the bus tour, Starbucks corporate decried the series of national events:
"Workers United should demonstrate the same commitment to bargaining as they do to rallies, and now a 13-city bus tour," a Starbucks representative told Nation's Restaurant News in an emailed statement. "Even though we have attempted to schedule bargaining for hundreds of stores, Workers United has only met Starbucks at the table to progress negotiations for 11 stores.
Partners voted for bargaining not buses. Perhaps that's why partners at a dozen stores across the U.S. have already filed petitions to decertify Workers United as their bargaining representative."
SBWorkers United has been busy lately and most recently the union has taken credit for the implementation of clearer Pride Month décor guidelines for Starbucks stores, following protests around certain Starbucks stores allegedly banning LGBTQ+ décor in June. Although Starbucks insists the company never banned Pride Month store décor, the union is nonetheless counting these changes as a win.
Even more recently, the National Labor Relations Board ordered the reinstatement of four Ithaca, N.Y. Starbucks workers, who were unjustly let go, a NLRB administrative law judge ruled on June 30. According to Trib Live, Starbucks disagrees with the judge’s ruling, and will be undertaking a “full legal review” of the decision. On July 8, another NLRB judge ordered the immediate reopening of the College Avenue store in Ithaca, New York, along with the reinstatement of all workers who were let go, stating that the company had broken federal labor law. Ithaca is a hotbed of Starbucks union activity and has become the first city in the U.S. with 100% unionized Starbucks locations.
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]