Grocery workers’ union joins wave of Starbucks organizing campaigns

By: - April 26, 2022 1:38 pm
Starbucks sign and store

(Fabian Holtappels | Pixabay)

A second union has organized to represent workers at three Starbucks locations in Wisconsin, all of them in Dane County.

The United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) reported that it had filed petitions Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold union representation elections at Starbucks outlets in Fitchburg, Monona and Madison. 

Employees at the three stores have said they want improvements in scheduling practices, including scheduling time off, as well as compensation, according to an announcement from the union.

UFCW Local 1473 represents about 12,000 grocery workers across Wisconsin and in upper Michigan. Those include employees who staff nine Starbucks cafés located inside Kroger grocery stores, said Jake Bailey, president of the statewide local. They are Kroger employees but are trained in accordance with Starbucks practices and wear Starbucks uniforms.

The three outlets involved in the new organizing drive are all Starbucks corporate stores, Bailey said, ranging in size from about 25 to 35 employees.

Starbucks employees are  in the midst of a wave of union organizing across the U.S., primarily by an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). 

The company has said it doesn’t want collective bargaining or union representation at its stores, but that it would respect employees’ choice in union representation elections. In some locations, the NLRB is investigating charges that the company has fired workers in retaliation for unionizing, a charge that the company denies. 

Bailey said Starbucks employees at the three Dane County locations who contacted the union included some with family members represented by the union at grocery stores or other businesses. In addition, some employees contacted the union after seeing UFCW posts on social media “about the baristas that we represent in Kroger and also some of our other retail locations,” he said.

The UFCW’s organizing of Starbucks workers in Wisconsin has been underway for about six months, Bailey said, and the union has been organizing employees at other Starbucks outlets in the state as well. 

Bailey said he expects the union and the company to reach a stipulated agreement on details for the elections in the coming weeks, with an election in about a month and a half or so.

Workers are seeking union representation at four other Starbucks locations in Wisconsin as part of the national campaign by SEIU through Starbucks Workers United: in Oak Creek, Appleton, Plover and Madison. Ballots are to be counted in the Oak Creek union election on Wednesday and in the Plover election on May 4.


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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Deputy Editor Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary.