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Starbucks workers in over 200 of 9,000 company-operated stores nationally, including here in Boston, have filed to unionize, demonstrating their desire to be represented by unions such as Starbucks Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

Ballot counts on April 11, 2022 resulted in two Boston-area stores unanimously becoming the first Starbucks to unionize in Massachusetts – the Commonwealth Avenue store in Allston by 11 to 0 and the Coolidge Corner store on 277 Harvard Street in Brookline by 14 to 0. More stores are anticipated to file for unionization and hold elections in the months to come.

In response to its employees’ organizing efforts, Starbucks has launched an intensive anti-union campaign to thwart the union effort, and on July 21, 2021, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Starbucks unlawfully retaliated against two Philadelphia baristas in response to their unionization efforts and ordered the company to cease and desist from interfering with their workers’ rights.

Starbucks workers organizing in Boston have reportedly been subject to increased corporate
pressure and surveillance, voicing shared experiences of upper management and corporate personnel, many whom baristas have never met, sitting in their cafes and observing baristas for several hours a day, while workers from two Greater Boston stores have additionally reported store surveillance technology upgrades soon after filing petitions to unionize.

Greater Boston Starbucks workers have been required to attend one-on-one meetings with Store Managers, and occasionally District Managers, in which they received misleading and inflammatory information about unions and been informed they will not be eligible for summer raises or other employment benefits because of the ongoing union drive.

On both a local and national level, Starbucks workers have reported drastic labor cuts at their stores, resulting in understaffed shifts and unsafe working conditions, which workers believe to be a tactic meant to restrain employee interactions.

This week, the Council adopted a resolution, expressing their support for the Starbucks workers unionizing in our community and called upon Starbucks to immediately renounce its anti-union tactics, agree to fair election principles, negotiate in good faith, and work with its unionized workers to make Starbucks a truly progressive company.

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