Starbucks' Employee Union Attempts Have Expanded To 19 States

Starbucks typically makes headlines whenever it brings back fan-favorite seasonal items, like the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The coffee chain is also sometimes on the minds of investment followers when it performs well financially. Recently, however, the company has been in the news because many of its employees are making efforts to unionize, in turn spurring accusations that Starbucks is union-busting. Ever since the first Starbucks union formed in Buffalo, New York, in December of 2021, other locations have begun trying to unionize, as well — 54 stores across 19 states, to be exact (via NPR).

Eater reports that multiple Starbucks locations in Illinois have reached out to Workers United to start the unionization process, while stores in Boston, Arizona, and Colorado have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board about organizing. NPR points out that there are nearly 9,000 Starbucks locations across the United States, so there's still a long way to go before a majority of them are staffed by union workers. Still, as more Starbucks stores push to organize, the company at large will have a more difficult time curtailing their efforts.

What happens when Starbucks workers unionize

After the Buffalo Starbucks location unionized late last year, Business Insider reported that the community responded largely positively, with customers leaving workers tips and messages of encouragement. What exactly does unionization change for employees? Vox explains that after a vote in favor of unionizing, the next steps are contract negotiations for "for better wages, benefits, and working conditions." More broadly, unionization at one location can inspire others to push for organization. Based on recent news, this is exactly what has happened.

As for how many more Starbucks stores will unionize in the future, that remains to be seen. Union efforts often take time; according to Eater, Starbucks locations throughout the Midwest had been working to unionize even before the Buffalo store's vote was complete. Last month, per the Chicago Sun-Times, a downtown Chicago store asked the National Labor Relations Board to conduct a union certification vote, for which the hearing has not yet been held.