Starbucks workers protest unfair labor practices and union busting tactics in Seattle

Two Starbucks stores in Seattle went on strike Friday morning, protesting unfair labor practices and union busting tactics being used against employees. 

Supervisors and baristas at the Eastlake Starbucks and the Starbucks on 5th and Pike spent their morning participating in a strike. This is in response to workers saying there are extreme hour cuts, short staffing and unfair labor practices despite a large increase in sales when COVID restrictions lift in Washington state.

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Starbucks saw record sales in the third quarter as the impact of the pandemic receded and customers flocked to its stores.

Two individual press releases, describing details of the strikes, were sent out by both of the participating Starbucks locations. 

  • The Eastlake Starbucks' press release stated their protest would start at 6:00 a.m. and end at 3:00 p.m. Friday. According to their press release, management allegedly cut worker hours despite an 18% increase in sales in North America in 2022.
  • The Starbucks on 5th and Pike's press release says their strike will last three days, starting Friday and ending Sunday, April 17. According to their press release, after filing to unionize in Jan. 2022, shift-supervisors and baristas at this downtown location, have experienced a variety of anti-union tactics by managers as they wait to vote in their union election.

2 Seattle Starbucks locations pushing to unionize

A rally was held in front of the Starbucks Seattle headquarters on Tuesday as two locations in the city pushed to unionize.

Workers say they hope this strike raises awareness and support from the Seattle community and it's visitors.

"We petitioned to unionize our store about a month ago and ever since then Starbucks has been enforcing previously unenforced policies and taking away hours," said Myra Maza, a shift supervisor at Eastlake Starbucks. "I've been here for seven years and I love it, I love my partners, I love my manager specifically and that's why I've been here. They've done so much for me, and I've given so much to this store and the fact that they're trying to force me out, it feels like this past seven years everything I've done means nothing."

Starbucks Media Relations team released the following statement at around 10:00 a.m. Friday morning:

"We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. These are important issues, and we respect our partners’ right to share their perspectives. We have fully honored the process laid out by the NLRB and encouraged our partners to exercise their right to vote in the election to have their voices heard. Any claims of union busting are false."

Friday's strikes follow a similar strike in January, where workers at the 5th Avenue and Pike Street location, and the Westlake drive-thru locations came together to demand the change. A third store on Broadway and Denny Way began a similar push in December. 

Workers United have filed an unfair labor practice charge with Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board to address Starbucks' tactics, which is currently pending with the region. Seattle’s efforts to join Starbucks Workers United come as 20 stores around the country have successfully unionized, while more than 200 stores have filed for union elections. They are asking for a greater share of the $29.1 billion in profits the company claimed in 2021, better working conditions, and more reliable schedules.

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This is a developing story.

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