San Antonio Starbucks vying to be the first in Texas to unionize

click to enlarge A customer approaches the Starbucks store at Loop 410 and Vance Jackson Road. - Google Street View
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A customer approaches the Starbucks store at Loop 410 and Vance Jackson Road.

Workers at a San Antonio Starbucks filed with the National Labor Relations Board to unionize, becoming the coffee chain's first Texas store to join a growing nationwide organizing effort.

Staffers from the Starbucks at Loop 410 and Vance Jackson Road sent a letter to CEO Kevin Johnson saying they're organizing to stand up for their needs and to formalize "the support we already have for each other."

"Unionizing gives us the power to speak up for ourselves, our peers and our organization with a powerful collection of voices — all intent on improving the Starbucks experience for everyone," reads the letter signed by nine employees.

The Starbucks Workers United shared the letter in a Monday post on Twitter. "Howdy, partners! Texas is joining the party," tweeted the union, which is helping workers organize countrywide.

Under U.S. labor law, employees must file with the NLRB to initiate a vote at their workplace whether to unionize. Management is prohibited from retaliating against those who vote to organize.

A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed that the San Antonio store was the first in Texas to file an NLRB petition. The company opposes the unionization efforts because it already offers pay and benefits that exceed the industry norm, the spokesperson added.

The Alamo City organizing push comes as an effort to unionize Starbucks stores nationwide picks up steam. Workers at dozens of the chain's outlets have launched organizing campaigns since December.

Starbucks fired seven workers involved in unionizing a Memphis, Tennessee location, driving complaints from Starbucks Workers United that that company is trying to bust the union. Starbucks officials said they terminated the staffers for breaking security rules when they invited media into their store after hours. 

Last July, a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled that Starbucks had acted unlawfully in 2019 and 2020 when it reprimanded and fired a pair of workers trying to unionize one of its Philadelphia stores.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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