Starbucks stores in Santa Cruz first to unionize in California

Workers at two Starbucks locations in Santa Cruz made history on Wednesday by voting to unionize, becoming the first Starbucks to do so in California. 

The newly unionized workers say security issues, wages and a lack of support from upper management are just a few of the reasons they started organizing a union six months ago.  

It’s happening all over the country. Workers at major companies like Amazon and Starbucks are forming unions, fighting for rights they say are beneficial for all working-class people. Joe Thompson is a shift supervisor for Starbucks in Santa Cruz and a union organizer.   

"We’re showing that not only can college students and young people organize their workplaces, but we’re showing true work place Democracy requires taking everyone into the battlefields and showing that we’re fighting for all workers," Thompson said.  

The Starbucks locations on Mission and Ocean Streets will now join Starbucks Workers United, the national union for Starbucks workers. The group tweeted this message today, celebrating the first Starbucks in California to unionize.   

"Even though Starbucks has broken the law, and the National Labor Relations Board has said so, by threatening workers, the workers are still winning. They’re not afraid of this giant corporation," said Steve Smith. Communications Director for California Labor Federation.    

Starbucks says it's stronger without unions. Last week, it announced it would increase wages in U.S. stores, increase training time and launch a new app for employees.  

"I feel like unionizing will give them a lot more options of choosing their hours and negotiating their wages and just other benefits that they might need," said Jasmine, a former Starbucks employee who worked in Los Angeles.   

Thompson says 19 stores have already filed for union elections across the state and SBWU is being guided by other major labor unions. Now supporters say this is the first step in making things better for Starbucks workers.  

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"Our entire life is work. That’s what our life is based around so being able to dictate how it’s affecting us and telling the people the problems with the work, because that’s changeable, that’s needed," said Margaret, a Starbucks customer who supports workers unionizing.   

Thompson says there are also 230 Starbucks stores, across 33 states trying to form unions.