June 19, 2024

Starbucks Workers United members strike outside a Starbucks in New York on Nov. 16.

Starbucks Workers United members strike outside a Starbucks in New York on Nov. 16.
Image: Brendan McDermid (Reuters)

Starbucks workers in Durham, North Carolina and Providence, Rhode Island voted to unionize this week, bringing the number of unionized Starbucks locations across the nation to 369.

The votes were tallied just days after Starbucks sent a letter to Lynne Fox—the international president of the union that includes Starbucks Workers United—asking to resume contract negotiations beginning in early 2024. Fox said in a statement that she is reviewing the letter and waiting to respond.

Negotiations between the unions and Starbucks have been strained, to say the least. The company has been accused of stalling tactics and union-busting activities. Starbucks has placed restrictions on where negotiations can occur (in-person only). The company also sued Starbucks Workers United in October for using its name in the union’s title and a similar logo. Not a single labor contracts has been signed since the first Starbucks workers unionized in Buffalo, New York in December 2021.

Starbucks workers went on strike in March over the company’s alleged anti-union practices, then again this summer over issues of LGBTQ+ inclusion after locations restricted the use of Pride decorations. In November, workers waged the largest strike in company history over low pay and poor work conditions.

A third-party report commissioned by Starbucks and released Wednesday (Dec. 13) stated that the company is not opposed to bargaining, but was unprepared for the unionization efforts of its workers.

The Rhode Island Starbucks store that voted unanimously to unionize Tuesday (Dec. 12) will be the first store in the state to become a part of Starbucks Workers United, according to The Providence Journal. The North Carolina store was the third in the state to unionize, The News & Observer reported.

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