Workers at Starbucks in Cottonwood Heights plan to unionize

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — Workers at a Starbucks in Cottonwood Heights announced Thursday their plans to form a union. If successful, they would become the first Starbucks store in Utah to unionize.

“I really love that this whole movement is being led by baristas like me just to communicate after work,” said Jacob Lawson, shift manager.

Shift Supervisor Jacob Lawson has been with Starbucks for 4 years and never thought he would lead his team on the path to forming a union.

More than 100 Starbucks locations across the country have applied for union recognition in more than 20 states since last fall.

“As soon as Buffalo shops started unionizing, I started talking to everyone about it and I really wanted to know what they thought about it, and when everyone was like, oh, that sounds great, we really talked about it to do it here,” Lawson said.

Starbucks partners at the 7025 South Highland Drive location planned to file a formal petition Thursday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union representative election.

Brittany Glazier has been with the company for three years. She says she is happy to be part of this movement.

“We deserve our voices to be heard as partners in this company… and just being a partner means standing up for one another and making sure we get what we deserve,” said Brittany Glazier.

Nationally, Starbucks workers organize with Workers United (SEIU), the same international union that has supported successful campaigns in Buffalo, New York, Mesa, Arizona, Seattle, Washington and Knoxville, Tennessee.

According to Workers United, an overwhelming majority of eligible employees at the Cottonwood Heights cafe signed union authorization cards.

But it’s a bold move to take on a multibillion-dollar corporation that doesn’t hide its anti-union stance.

“They’ve practiced quite a bit of union busting, we’ve seen a few hours of cuts here. Upper management keeps us from unionizing,” Glazier said.

Jacob and Brittany hope that by standing up and speaking out, they can change the work environment so that it’s better for everyone.

“Growing up in a union family, the difference in how a union works has changed through life and having a child and I hope to pass that on to others and experience that for myself,” Glazier said.

“This is what we need more in the country. It’s great that Starbucks is unionizing, but I think it’s important that McDonald’s or Taco Bell employees look at the Starbucks movement and leave, we can do that too,” Lawson said.

In a letter emailed to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz early Thursday morning and signed by employees at the store, Cottonwood Heights workers wrote:

“’Partnership’ means sharing power, responsibility and success. That is why you are receiving this letter today. We…the partners of Starbucks 50326…have decided to stand with partners across the country to express our intentions to unionize. We are delighted to announce that we will be petitioning Workers United (for an election) and we look forward to seeing what that will bring.”

Michelle Eisen, a Buffalo barista who helped lead Starbucks’ first successful organizing campaign last December, added her voice:

“I’m so excited to welcome the first store from the state of Utah to our campaign! It takes a lot of courage to be the first to do something, but in this case it’s particularly brave. The decision to acquire a multi-billion dollar company that has not shied away from its anti-union stance deserves applause. With each new petition submitted, our movement gains both momentum and strength. I’m incredibly excited to add the Cottonwood Heights store to our list! ”

NPR reported that Starbucks has used tactics to push back union efforts elsewhere, including closing stores for months after workers announced their intention to unionize.

Union organizers have said they want better training, better staffing and better pay, which will increase over time, and more respect from management.

FOX 13 News has reached out to Starbucks Corporation for comment.

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