SEIU 1021

Starbucks workers across U.S. to tell CEO Howard Schultz: “Union busting is disgusting!”


What do you do when the bosses throw parties to celebrate themselves? Starbucks workers in Seattle have an answer: Crash that party and make it your own. Starbucks Corporation is hosting a “Founders Day” event on Wednesday, March 22, in Seattle, Washington, to celebrate CEO Howard Schultz. Union members and supporters plan to be there as well for a party of their own that celebrates the real founders of Starbucks and its erstwhile progressive values: the workers.

Showing solidarity with Seattle, Starbucks workers across the country will hold similar rallies and events to call out the union-busting tactics of Schultz and Starbucks management, including Berkeley, Santa Clara, Mill Valley, El Dorado Hills, and San Pablo.

In late 2021, Starbucks “partners”– as the corporation deceptively calls its hourly employees — formed Starbucks Workers United, an SEIU affiliate. Workers have joined together, raised their voices, cast ballots in union elections, and gone on strike to demand that Starbucks respect their right to a union so they have a say over pay, scheduling, and more.

Starbucks corporate, which posted $3.3 billion in profits last year, has responded with threats, intimidation, firings, store closings, and refusal to bargain in good faith – becoming one of the most prolific union busters in United States history.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judges have found at least 127 violations of federal labor law, with over 1000 more alleged violations still being adjudicated, for, among other things, threatening, intimidating, and firing hundreds of worker leaders. That runs counter to Starbucks’ carefully-cultivated image of a progressive company. Starbucks cannot be an industry-leading, forward-thinking employer and simultaneously the country’s leading union buster.

The Main & Rose Starbucks in Pleasanton, California, was the latest location to unionize. The workers filed a petition with the NLRB to unionize with Starbucks Workers United. 

Workers sent a letter to CEO Howard Schultz to announce their organizing campaign. In the letter, they explained that they are organizing because “partners have been struggling to make ends meet following an unexplained cut in hours.” Workers have felt like their needs have been routinely neglected.

“We are unionizing because we have tried everything else. It is time we have a say in decisions that directly affect us and our livelihoods. I am proud of all of us coming together to fight for better working conditions,”said Elise Lester, a partner and organizer at the Pleasanton location.

Starbucks’ ruthless union-busting campaign includes firing nearly 200 union leaders across the country and shuttering union stores. At least 11 union leaders in California have been fired in retaliation for their organizing activity, and more have been forced out of the company.

The NLRB has issued 70 official complaints against the company, encompassing over 1300 violations of federal labor law.

Starbucks workers are at the forefront of the new labor movement organizing, with more new unions formed since December 2021 than any U.S. company in the last twenty years. Now 285 Starbucks stores in 42 states and Washington, D.C., have successfully unionized.