Philadelphia Council Supports Unionization of Starbucks Workers
Friday, March 04, 2022
PHILADELPHIA — Today, March 3, 2022 City Council expressed their strong support for Philadelphia Starbucks workers who are attempting to form a union, unanimously passing a resolution introduced by Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large) and Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large). Workers at four Philadelphia Starbucks locations have filed with the National Labor Relations Board to unionize their workplace with Workers United, joining over 110 stores across the country. The City Council resolution calls on Starbucks to accept card check neutrality and recognize the union once the majority of the workforce signs union cards.
“As someone who came to politics from community activism, I know that the only way to build safe, equitable, dignified workplaces is through organizing,” said Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large). “Philly is a union town. Here, we know that when you lead with solidarity, you win. The diverse group of Starbucks workers fighting for fair representation have our full support.”
“We’re here to send a message to every worker in this city — if you want to form a union, City Council will have your back,” said Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large). “What’s good for workers is good for business and good for our city. I’m grateful for the support of our entire Council, and we will continue to stand with these workers every step of the way.”
The four Starbucks locations in Philadelphia cite the need for a union to negotiate better benefits, improved health and safety protections, adequate staffing in stores, and a livable wage. Starbucks employees across the country have reported Starbucks deploying out-of-town managers to dissuade workers from unionizing. Last week, Workers United filed 20 unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board in response to Starbucks’ anti-union campaign.
“We have, over the last two days, been having a series of captive-audience sessions that can, at best, be described as anti-union conversations, and at worst, be described as a forced listening to anti-union propaganda,” said Lua Riley, Starbucks employee, 9th and South Street location. “These intimidation tactics are a malicious effort to attempt to dissolve our union before it’s even begun. We are thankful for City Council for proposing a resolution to reinforce the backing that we know we have through our labor laws, and hope for continued support in Council in the case that Starbucks commits any more further actions of blatant anti-union behavior”
“Philadelphia is a labor town, and it is right that our city is at the frontline in the battle for the rights of workers at Starbucks,” said State Senator Nikil Saval (District 1). “So many of the Starbucks employees throughout the city are my constituents, and I’m exceedingly proud of my colleagues in City Council for bringing forth this recognition of the incredible bravery of these workers. When workers stand up for their own rights, the rights of workers everywhere are made stronger.
“All workers in this country—including Starbucks baristas—have the fundamental right to unionize, and to have a say in their workplace conditions,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (District 3). “I join my colleagues in urging Starbucks to pursue card check neutrality, and to allow their workers to discuss unionization free from threats or intimidation.”
“As we push against the narrative that a union is not the solution to our problems, we’re grateful for our city and it’s solidarity,” said Lydia Fernandez, Starbucks employee, 20th and Market Street location.
In passing this resolution, Philadelphia City Councilmembers join dozens of elected officials across the country who have expressed public support for the unionization efforts of Starbucks workers. In New York City, 75 elected officials, including US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and City Councilmember Tiffany Cabán, signed onto a letter urging Starbucks to respect workers’ right to unionize. In Seattle, where Starbucks headquarters is located, Councilmember Kshama Sawant also passed a resolution expressing their firm support for Starbucks Workers United.
“More than mere symbolism, these statements give confidence to and strengthen workers’ organizing efforts,” Jedtsada Laucharoen, organizer with Socialist Alternative. “Starbucks’ retaliation is coordinated nation-wide, and so must be community support for workers. This is the most important development in US labor today, and elected officeholders who support labor should pass these resolutions across the country.”
“The greatest weapon employers have in this country to bust unions is perfectly legal; it’s the broken system of labor law that is littered with traps and roadblocks to prevent workers from forming unions,” said Alex Riccio, Workers United. “Starbucks has been using this manipulated system with glee, and I, as a staff employee of Workers United, applaud the great city of Philadelphia for demanding this multi-billion dollar company put away their swords and grant their workers union recognition.”
The resolution was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Derek Green (At-Large), Cherelle Parker (9th District), Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large), Mark Squilla (1st District), and Isaiah Thomas (At-Large).