Although not the first coffee chain in Wisconsin fighting for a union, workers at a Starbucks location south of Milwaukee are trying to make their union the company’s first in the state. Labor Radio’s Sean Hagerup spoke with one of the employees helping to organize.
With each passing day, Starbucks Workers United, an affiliate of Workers United and the Service Employees International Union, brings more and more corporate locations into the national campaign for union representation.
One of the newest stores joining the push is located on South Howell Ave in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, just over 10 miles south of Milwaukee. The Oak Creek location, which filed for its election with the Nat’l Labor Relations Board last Friday, employs about 30 workers, and is now one of 97 stores in 26 states demanding a union.
Hannah Fogarty, a barista at the Oak Creek location, says that her and a group of coworkers had been kicking the idea of unionizing around for weeks before reaching out to Starbucks Workers United:
Fogarty has been an employee at the Oak Creek store for about 6 months, and says she has been given a few raises during her time there. Even then, her hourly rate is still surpassed by the $15 minimum that many stores are demanding as a part of their unionization effort, and undercuts Starbucks’ claims to top-tier, livable compensation:
Another factor driving workers at the Oak Creek store to unionize was inconsistent and at times paltry staffing, which could leave the employees either overworked, or out of a job for the day if management decided to keep the store closed. The situation became even worse in December and early January, when at one point over half of the staff was unavailable because they had either tested positive for or been exposed to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus:
According to Fogarty, who is a worker-leader helping to coordinate organization between the store and Starbucks Workers United, an overwhelming majority of employees at the store have already signed union cards. Since filing for an election, Fogarty said that their support continues to increase:
The unit demanded voluntary recognition from the company by this Thursday, February 17th. As with the other locations , they had not heard from the company before the deadline passed. The next step in their efforts will be to set a date with the NLRB to set the parameters for an election. Fogarty says that in the meantime, it is still important for community members to come and support baristas:
You have been listening to the voice of Hannah Fogarty, a worker-leader and one of many baristas at the Oak Creek Starbucks fighting for union representation.
Reporting Courtesy of Sean Hagerup for Labor Radio
Image Courtesy of Noel Reinhold on Flickr