SEATTLE - Around 200 workers, union members and other supporters gathered at Cal Anderson Park to rally around Starbucks employees, who are starting union drives around the United States.
Two Starbucks locations in the Capitol Hill area are among those around the country that recently voted to unionize.
Liz Duran says she works at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, where a vote just occurred. She's hoping to inspire others in their efforts to unionize as well.
"It was something that we have been working on for a couple months," said Duran. "Thursday we finally had the count for our union vote by mail, so we won the election. It was super exciting."
Duran says workers "banded together as a team" during the process.
"Thankfully for us, we didn’t deal with as bad as some of the things other people dealt with. Some of the speakers here, they’ve been fired, they’ve been intimidated," she said.
"We had the Seattle Roastery, which is one of the three roasteries and one of the flagships of Starbucks corporation," said Councilmember Kshama Sawant, Council District 3. "The workers there successfully unionized and that comes after the Broadway, Denny store."
Councilmember Sawant says workers are demanding a living wage adjusted for inflation, free health care, debit card tipping, secure scheduling and full staffing.
"After decades of being decimated, being pushed down, and [the] reduction of union numbers, suddenly you have a young generation rejecting the status quo," said Sawant.
Jesse Mason says he was trying to organize a union of Verizon workers in the Seattle area. He says he was fired.
"Just last week we had the really big win for Verizon workers in quite some time, when workers at the Lynnwood Everett stores decided to unionize, so I was just trying to continue that into stores and Shoreline," he said.
"I think that Democracy isn’t just something that just happens in November. It is something we need to practice every day of our lives and democracy in the workplace means unions," said Luke Carpenter, a supporter of unionizing.
"It’s an overall really important thing for people to be able to secure protection, secure wages," said Ty Underwood, another supporter of the workers.
Some residents who live near the Starbucks Reserve Roastery were also supportive of the process.
"Unions are the backbone of America. I think it’s a really good thing," said Capitol Hill resident Paul Belmonte.
"Unions need to come to Starbucks. I’m all for it 100%," said James Craig.
"We are just really excited the community is behind us," said Duran.