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Seattle Starbucks store votes to unionize as movement grows

A Starbucks Coffee franchise in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan on May 28, 2020. A Starbucks store in Seattle voted to unionize, the seventh local store to do so. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A Starbucks Coffee franchise in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan on May 28, 2020. A Starbucks store in Seattle voted to unionize, the seventh local store to do so. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 23 (UPI) -- Employees at a Starbucks store in Seattle voted to unionize, giving the fledgling effort to organize one of its highest-profile victories in the coffee establishment's hometown.

Before the unanimous vote at the Seattle store, five stores in the Buffalo, N.Y., area and another one in Mesa, Ariz., voted to be represented by the Starbucks Workers Union. The union told CNN that workers in 149 other stores in 27 states have signed cards in support of calling for a union election.

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"Broadway and Denny partners win their union unanimously, becoming the first store on the West Coast -- and the first in Starbucks' hometown of Seattle -- to organize," the union said on Twitter.

Workers at another local Starbucks store in the Capitol Hill area said they are organizing to improve healthcare coverage and have more input in company policies.

"In the past, maybe these were very transient jobs people only stayed in for a few years, but increasingly they are becoming people's sources of income and livelihood," Sydney Durkin, a shift supervisor at the Capitol Hill store, told the Seattle Times. "People in these positions are saying, 'OK. This is what I'm doing. This has to be better than it currently is.'"

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The National Labor Relations Board last week accused Starbucks of retaliating against two employees who sought to unionize their coffee shop in Phoenix, according to The Washington Post.

In that case, two Phoenix baristas brought numerous complaints against Starbucks including retaliation, making threats and changing the conditions of employment for the organizers.

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