Bernie Sanders Takes A Stance On Starbucks Employees' Union Drive

Starbucks and its employees have had their fair share of differences over the years, and many scandals have hit Starbucks since it opened in 1971. However, no conflict has been quite as drawn out as the coffee chain's opposition to its workers' recent unionization efforts in stores across the country. Seven Starbucks employees in Memphis, Tennessee, were fired last month for actions tied to unionization, which prompted Starbucks Workers United (an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union) to accuse the company of union busting. The firings occurred just a couple of months after a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York, became the first of the chain's 9,000 U.S. locations to vote to unionize — a move that inspired Starbucks workers in over 20 states to also file for union recognition, reports The Washington Post

After Starbucks fired another union leader in Buffalo this week, NPR reports that three more locations in the city have voted to jump on the union train. In a tweet posted yesterday evening, Senator Bernie Sanders expressed his support of Starbucks employees' union drive.

Sanders says Starbucks should end union busting

"Starbucks workers have now voted to join unions six out of seven times," reads Sanders' Twitter post. "Union elections will soon be held in over 120 more shops. The movement to unionize Starbucks is spreading like wildfire." He concluded with a message to the coffee giant, saying, "Now, would be a very good time for Starbucks to end union busting & embrace this movement." 

Sanders' YouTube channel features a town hall video centering the union drive, which opens with a string of interviews with Starbucks employees who support unionization. For many workers, unionization brings the promise of financial security. One Starbucks employee who works three jobs told The Washington Post, "With a pay raise that's actually significant, that can actually ensure that people only need one job to survive — that would be incredible." Other employees are drawn to the possibility of improved health benefits. In a response to a commenter on Sanders' tweet, Starbucks Workers United confirmed that Starbucks unions support Medicare for All. 

Starbucks isn't the only large corporation whose employees are pushing to unionize. According to Gothamist, workers at REI's SoHo location in New York City voted in favor of the move last week, as did tech workers at The New York Times, while warehouse workers at Amazon are set to cast their vote later in March.