Maryland Starbucks Unionizes Days Before A Supreme Court Case On Labor Rights

In a significant move for labour rights, workers at the Shipley’s Grant Starbucks cafe in Maryland voted to unionise this week

In a significant move for labour rights, workers at the Shipley’s Grant Starbucks cafe in Maryland voted to unionise this week

In a significant move for labour rights, workers at the Shipley’s Grant Starbucks cafe in Maryland voted to unionise this week, just days ahead of a crucial Supreme Court case involving the company’s challenge of a federal labour injunction. The vote, passed 21-2 on Thursday afternoon, reflects a growing trend of unionisation efforts among Starbucks employees nationwide.

Workers United at Shipley’s Grant

Noah Smith, a shift supervisor at the Shipley’s Grant shop, expressed his motivation for unionizing, citing issues such as dwindling hours and the increasing traction of unionization efforts at Starbucks locations across the nation. Smith, along with two other workers, initiated the union petition, which they filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on March 19.

Data from shows that 9,270 Starbucks employees are currently covered by a union, representing about three per cent of the company’s total workforce. The Shipley’s Grant location becomes the ninth Starbucks cafe in Maryland to unionize, with more stores in the state expected to follow suit in the coming months.

Challenges Faced by Shipley’s Grant Workers

Corporate-level decisions in early 2023 led to reduced hours among Shipley’s Grant cafe workers. While full-time employees saw minimal schedule changes, part-time workers faced the possibility of losing health care benefits and access to free education, which are offered to staff working a minimum of 20 to 22 hours a week.

Smith highlighted the challenges faced by the team of 27 employees in ensuring that every staff member works enough hours to receive benefits. He noted that workers often need to pick up shifts at other stores to meet the quota, reflecting the difficulties faced by many Starbucks employees.

Goals of Unionization

One of the primary goals of unionizing at Shipley’s Grant was to establish a dialogue with corporate leaders at Starbucks. Smith emphasized the importance of setting clear guidelines for minimum working hours and clearer expectations for employees, aiming to create a more inclusive work environment at the cafe.

Another focal point of the unionization effort is to address issues of inclusivity. Smith mentioned a recent directive from the store’s district manager to remove a Progress Pride Flag that the workers had hung up in the store, indicating a need for a more inclusive and supportive workplace environment.

Starbucks’ Response

Since the staff went public with their unionization petition, Starbucks management has begun enforcing a dress policy prohibiting workers from wearing union t-shirts on the clock. The company did not respond to a request for comment on these developments.

In other locations, Starbucks has taken more serious action against union promotion, including firing pro-union employees at several stores, according to rulings by NLRB judges.

Collective Bargaining and Future Discussions

Starbucks and Workers United announced in February that collective bargaining negotiations would begin soon. Discussions are scheduled to start at the end of this month, with the Shipley’s Grant vote being certified by the NLRB. Once certified, the cafe’s staff will join nationwide bargaining discussions affecting unionized Starbucks workers across the United States.

“I’m not going to be here forever, but the next people that come behind me, I want them to have a store that’s safe and inclusive and open and with them,” said Smith, reflecting the hope for a better future for Starbucks workers.

As Starbucks continues to navigate its labour relations, the outcome of this Supreme Court case and the ongoing unionization efforts could have significant implications for the company and its employees nationwide.

About Wrighter

Wrighter covers news across the global on Human Rights, Migrants Rights, and Labor Rights. Wrighter has vast experience in writing and is a doctor by profession.

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