After Buffalo’s Success, 4 Michigan Starbucks Stores May Unionize
Following the success of the unionization of a Buffalo-area Starbucks, it looks like Starbucks locations across the country will be trying to do the same. That includes several locations in Michigan.
In Case You Missed It
In December of 2021, a group of Starbucks workers in Buffalo, NY made history when they voted to unionize. Along with Workers United New York, the union representing them, a higher hourly wage, better safety practices, and improved health insurance options will all be sought from the now-unionized workers. Here they are celebrating their victory:
In a statement to eater.com, a Starbucks barista named Sam Amato said,
We’ve seen this movement spread to a few other stores across the country. We are contacted regularly by stores that want to unionize.
You can read more about their process for unionizing here.
Clearly, that desire to unionize is indeed spreading as NPR is now reporting that 54 stores across 19 states are also campaigning to join the union. Yes, that includes Michigan.
Specifically, four stores across Ann Arbor, Grand Blanc, and Clinton Township are hoping to unionize. Again, like in Buffalo, the main issues seem to be pay, health benefits, and working conditions.
What Does That Mean For Me?
When big changes like this come up for popular chains, like Starbucks, the first question usually asked by the consumer is, "Okay, but how will this affect me?" It's a fair question and the answer is...it really won't.
According to an article from btlaw.com, one thing that might be affected is the availability of mobile ordering. Over-complicated, online orders were listed as one of the reasons baristas were feeling overwhelmed and burned out. And, who could blame them?
Sure, most of us order a simple coffee drink with maybe one or two modifiers. Unfortunately, there are those that take modifications to the extreme. This order, for example, had a whopping 20+ custom modifiers requested. Add that kind of order on top of a short-staffed store in the middle of the morning rush and it's not hard to understand why that may cause some frustration.
With all of that being said, the article from btlaw.com goes on to say that one of the side effects, for lack of a better word, of unionization may be that mobile ordering might be unavailable during peak times. And, as a reminder, this is just a theory.
As well, another common concern is price increases. But, in all the articles I've read and the research I've done, I've yet to see any blatantly obvious indications that any price increases will be directly related to a store's unionization.
What Does This Mean for the Workers?
To put it simply, a better work environment.
Workers protected by this union will now have someone to 'go to bat' for them when it comes to higher pay, higher staffing, better health insurance, and safer working environments.
Even with the fire of unionization spreading, Starbucks boasts close to 9,000 locations in America, a vastly higher number than the mere 50+ stores that are hoping to unionize.
Is Starbucks fighting back against unionization? Of course. But, with what seems like the start of a movement, they may have trouble shutting down hundreds of workers demanding a better working environment. Read more here.