Graham Kilmer

New Berlin Starbucks Workers Unionizing

Joins workers at cafes in West Allis and Oak Creek in organizing effort.

By - Jul 14th, 2023 04:47 pm
Starbucks. Pixabay License Free for commercial use No attribution required

Starbucks. (Pixabay License).

The latest Milwaukee-area Starbucks store where employees have gone public with efforts to unionize is in New Berlin.

Workers at the 15550 W. National Ave. Starbucks are organizing with Starbucks Workers United, the new labor union backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) organizing Starbucks cafes across the country. The New Berlin workers join cafes in Oak Creek and West Allis that have also joined the organization drive. The Oak Creek store won its National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) union election in April 2022.

As has been the case with other locations, the workers at the New Berlin shop filed a petition with the NLRB registering their intent to organize and announced their union campaign with a letter to the CEO of Starbucks, now Laxman Narasimhan who succeeded Howard Schultz this spring.

“We’re sick of being treated just as numbers, drive times, customer connect scores, turnover rates and labor hours,” said Mona Kemstra, a barista and organizer at the New Berlin store. “We deserve to be treated as what we got hired as; partners.”

The first Starbucks in the Milwaukee area to organize was a cafe in Oak Creek at 8880 S. Howell Ave. It was part of a wave of Starbucks union campaigns that followed on the heels of the historic organizing victories in Buffalo where Starbucks Workers United began its nationwide drive. To date, more than 8,500 Starbucks workers at more than 300 stores have joined the campaign, according to the union.

“The reason I am choosing to unionize is because I am tired of the racism I have experienced from management behind the scenes,” said Alexia Alvarado, a barista at the New Berlin cafe. “When I spoke out about my issue I felt neglected that the people in positions of power preferred to have discussions about ending our union rather than discussing the gross behavior of our boss.”

As the effort has ramped up, Starbucks has fired hundreds of union organizers and leaders, according to the union, leading to official complaints issued by the NLRB. The union is calling this “a ruthless union-busting campaign” on the part of the international coffee corporation.

Starbucks Workers United is organizing the coffee behemoth one store at a time. The drive to organize the local, much smaller coffee chain Colectivo, aimed to organize all of the company’s 20 cafes at once. The difference between the two strategies means the Starbucks workers will be negotiating contracts at the store level, whereas Colectivo now contracts at the company level. The other difference is scale, Starbucks has thousands of stores.

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Categories: Business

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