As the move to unionize Starbucks stores nationwide gains momentum, a union organization announced Monday that local stores in Long Beach and Lakewood have submitted a petition to seek unionization.
Starbucks Workers United, the worker group behind the nationwide unionization effort, identified the Starbucks locations at 3390 E. Seventh St. near Redondo Avenue and 4833 Candlewood St. near Lakewood Boulevard as two locations seeking to organize.
In two separate petitions signed by 14 and 19 employees at the Long Beach and Lakewood locations, respectively, employees wrote they are overworked, understaffed and underpaid with “wages that keep us constantly struggling” with inflation. Other top complaints included unfair scheduling and inadequate COVID-19 policies.
#WhyWeOrganize — because partners around the country are standing up to fight for something better together.
Congrats to the two newest stores joining the movement in California: the Candlewood & Lakewood store and the Redondo & 7th store! pic.twitter.com/ClGe2CfxY3
— Starbucks Workers United (@SBWorkersUnited) March 8, 2022
A Starbucks spokesperson said that after the pandemic, the corporation “met and exceeded the direction of the CDC and the federal government” with COVID-19 protocols, offering sick pay, isolation pay with a positive COVID test, limiting store to takeout and adjusting hours of operation for certain stores.
Nationwide, Starbucks employees say that the corporation has slashed hours “almost very suddenly,” according to Josie Serrano, a barista at the Seventh Street coffee shop who signed a petition, echoing the sentiments of Starbucks Workers United.
Serrano, whose pronouns are they/them, works part-time and said that they have personally seen about a 25% reduction in work hours.
“It seems very coincidental that all this is happening from coast to coast as we’re hitting about 130 stores that have begun or succeeded in the unionization process,” said Serrano, a four-year veteran for the company.
When asked to address allegations of retaliation of cutting hours, the Starbucks spokesperson said the company remains focused on creating the best situation for its partners, “and maintaining open, transparent and direct conversations.” The Starbucks spokesperson was not immediately available to confirm if there has been a trend of work-hour reductions.
On top of the recent hour reductions, Serrano said when they first started working for the company, multiple partners performed one task, such as preparing a latte. But now, Serrano said responsibilities have converged. One person now performs the work of three to five people, for example. One worker, they recalled, was so overwhelmed that they needed a moment to cry in the backroom.
“It’s hard because you see this at not only our store but lots of stores,” Serrano said. “We kind of just feel like it’s a good time to hop on that momentum… and really try to get ourselves heard with collective bargaining.”
Starbucks, the multi-billion dollar global corporation, has remained against the idea of unions between them and their employees, who they call “partners.”
“Our position since the beginning is that … we want every single one of our partners’ rights to be respected,” and the company currently “operates as a cohesive unit and we want to preserve that working relationship,” a Starbucks spokesperson told the Post on Tuesday.
Tyler Keeling, a barista trainer at the Lakewood location and a six-year veteran for the company, said that the Starbucks corporation has “structural” issues with its workers.
Keeling, who serves as a committee member within the Starbucks United Workers and also signed the petition, said the group’s petition with the public intent to unionize is one of the first steps in the unionization process. He anticipates the process might take a few months. The timeline is up to the discretion of the National Labor Relations Board, he said. What follows is a hearing with the Board, scheduling a voting date and, finally, a vote, he said.
Starbucks corporation wants to have a more direct relationship with workers and is encouraging partners to vote no.