By Sheri Williams
Starbucks workers in Sacramento and across the nation are continuing their fight to form a union.
In Sacramento, two Starbucks stores in downtown and midtown are actively organizing, with the support of the Sacramento Central Labor Council and other unions. Those location are at 19th and J Streets and K and 7th Streets.
One of the main issues for local workers is safety.
“Our primary thing is that we want on-site security. We have asked corporate for this in the past and they have refused. They are relying on the supervisors to handle these issues. We’re not trained that way,” Nick Medeiros, a supervisor at the K Street location, told media.
Fabrizio Sasso, head of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, called the organizing drive one of the most important and exciting in Sacramento.
“We are seeing young workers unite for their collective good, in industries that only a few years ago people thought would be impossible to unionize,” Sasso said. “These organizers are the future of work in America, and we are proud to stand with them.”
In a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, workers at the K Street location said that they face unsafe working conditions on a daily basis. That includes restrooms being used by those doing drugs or engaging in other illegal behavior as well as “violent and disruptive patrons.”
The letter also outlined working conditions and pay that leave workers struggling to make ends meet, even with a full-time schedule.
“It is pathetic and tragic for Starbucks” to list corporate values of caring for workers while failing to pay living wages, the letter stated. “Many partners feel as though they cannot afford to thrive while being part of the Starbucks family. From financial concerns to stretching labor so thin that there are only two partners on the floor during peak hours, it is abundantly apparent that the Starbucks Corporation does not have their partners in their best interests.”
Schultz faced off against union champion Sen. Bernie Sanders during a Congressional hearing in March, to discuss whether the corporation was involved in union-busting activities. That hearing was for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, in a session labeled “No Company Is Above the Law: The Need to End Illegal Union Busting at Starbucks.” Sanders chairs the committee.
“Over the past 18 months Starbucks has waged the most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in the modern history of our country,” Sanders said. “The fundamental issue we are facing today is whether we have a system of justice that applies to all—or whether billionaires and large corporations can break the law with impunity.”
Schultz denied that Starbucks engaged in any illegal activity.
Currently, nearly 300 Starbucks stores nationwide have unionized during an unprecedented wave of unionizing across many industries.
“We are not anti-Starbucks. We are Starbucks! We know what it takes to make this company run, and we know best what we need to be able to do our jobs to the fullest,” the union said in a statement. “We want to be able to be our best selves, and we cannot reach our full potential if we are understaffed, overextended, exhausted, and burned-out. We are organizing because we know that Starbucks partners have the ability to improve this company, transform this industry, and form a collaborative, creative, forward-thinking, justice seeking, independent organization that will allow us to advocate for ourselves.”