Workers at five Lethbridge Starbucks locations are looking to unionize and organize for better working conditions and wages, according to The United Steelworkers union (USW). It said in a news release, it has filed an application with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) for a union-certification vote on behalf of Lethbridge Starbucks employees.
“Throughout the pandemic, Starbucks workers have faced unrealistic expectations from the coffee giant. Workers are burning out and are struggling mentally and physically,” said Pablo Guerra, USW organizer. “From challenges of PPE, employee shortages, being forced to come into work sick, and added pressures from mobile ordering and complex drink orders, workers have had enough and are demanding better from Starbucks. These workers strongly believe joining the USW is the only way to drive change in their workplaces.”
The ALRB will hear objections from Starbucks and is expected to authorize a vote of the workers shortly after. To win the vote, the union must receive the support of more than half of the workers.
“It takes a lot of courage for workers to step forward to join a union, especially when Starbucks is ramping up union-busting campaigns,” Guerra said. “Starbucks has given wage increases to all workers across Canada and the United States, except those who have unionized or are unionizing. Their recent tactics to keep out the union only prove the power of workers joining the union. It’s time for Starbucks to respect the will and rights of its workers to unionize.”
There are over 115 workers employed at the coffee shop’s Lethbridge locations.
The USW represents Starbucks workers at the Douglas Street Drive-Thru store in Victoria, B.C. It also represents 225,000 members in nearly every economic sector across Canada and is the largest private-sector union in North America, with 850,000 members in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.
A Spokesperson for Starbucks said the company is listening and learning from partners in the Lethbridge locations.
“From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed,” reads an email statement to My Lethbridge Now. “Starbucks success—past, present, and future—is built on how we partner together, always with our mission and values at our core.