Louisville Starbucks Employees Announce Intent To Unionize, Following Nationwide Movement

This story has been updated.

Workers at a Louisville Starbucks location announced today that they plan to unionize, joining the nationwide Starbucks Workers United Movement.

If they succeed, employees at the Factory Lane Starbucks in the East End of Louisville would be the first workers at a corporate owned Starbucks in the state of Kentucky to unionize, according to a news release sent out by Workers United, the union that the Starbucks Workers United movement is organizing with.

Since December, Starbucks employees at over 135 stores in the United States have started the process to unionize, according to the release — and some have succeeded.

So far, an “overwhelming majority” of workers at the Factory Lane Starbucks have signed union authorization cards, according to the news release. A letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson signed by 30 employees said, “We can no longer wait on the company to fix itself… We feel that we are voiceless in a company that is more concerned about profits and dividends than the people that hold it together. We have decided to unionize not out of anger or retribution, but our desire to make (Starbucks) a better place for ourselves and our community.”

A Starbucks spokesperson told LEO that the company is “listening and learning” to its “partners” in stores.

A letter from Starbucks VP Rossann Williams in response to the first Starbucks voting to unionize in December said that the company planned to bargain in good faith. But the company has faced accusations of trying to quash unionization efforts. In Buffalo, New York, where workers first voted to unionize, employees accused the corporation of sending in new hires to impact their vote. Two of three stores in the area who started the processing of unionizing were successful. Starbucks has also been accused of firing union leaders at other Starbucks.

Michelle Eisen, a Buffalo barista, who led her store’s attempt to unionize, voiced her support for the Factory Lane store in a statement. 

 “I am thrilled to welcome the first store from the state of Kentucky to our campaign! It takes an immense amount of courage to be the first to do anything, but it is especially brave in this case,” she said. “The decision to take on a multi billion dollar corporation that has not been shy about its anti union position, deserves to be applauded. With each new petition filed our movement gains both momentum and strength. I am incredibly excited to add the Factory Lane store to our list! ”

Factory Lane employees plan on filing for an election with the National Labor Relations Board this afternoon.

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