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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The baristas from the N.W. 23rd Starbucks in Oklahoma City who were not on the clock Sunday afternoon held a gathering on the patio to call attention to their effort to unionize.

A large majority of baristas from that store signed a petition for the National Labor Relations Board to conduct an election for union representation.

The NLRB started sending out ballots to that store’s employees Friday. May 27 is the deadline for ballots to be received back and the counting will be on May 31.

Community members turned out to support baristas from the store along with Starbucks baristas from across the city.

It was intentional that the gathering was on May 1 — May Day — when labor organizations worldwide engage in various public demonstrations to bring the public’s attention to workers’ rights.

Alyssa Sperrazza, a barista at NW 63rd and Grand, posted this photo of workers from the store who were not working a shift at the time:

Why?

Free Press asked two of the N.W. 23rd baristas about what they want through their organizing.

“We’re organizing for three main reasons,” said Collin Pollitt. “We want workplace democracy. We want a living wage. We want to make Starbucks a true partnership with its workers. And, we want Starbucks to become a truly progressive company.”

Pollitt wanted to be clear that their efforts were not just about their individual store.

“We love working together,” he said. “Our partner relationship is great. We love working with each other. But, we’re not organizing against our manager, we’re organizing to make a more just labor structure.”

Starbucks
Starbucks, NW 23rd and Robinson, Oklahoma City, Okla. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

We also talked to Kat Hudgins from the same store who said that their action is not just about their particular store.

“It’s about our experiences with management all across the Starbucks board, and the things that we have experienced in terms of higher leadership, and how they have often treated the partners as if they are simply low wage workers and disposable,” said Hudgins.

“If you’re going to claim that we’re partners, we’re part of the company, then you need to have your mission be as applicable to your people as it is to your customers.”

Hudgins continued, “If Starbucks’ mission is to nurture and inspire the human spirit, one soul at a time, then why is it not starting with its partners’ souls?”

Over the years, Starbucks corporate leaders have talked an impressive line about how they value their employees, or “partners,” as the company calls them. And, founder Howard Schultz, now back in as CEO, has made a big thing about how there are always empty seats at the table of board meetings to symbolize the partners.

But Starbucks workers want to have actual, direct representation at the top and democratically elected by them.

Citywide effort

Four Starbucks crews in OKC, plus one in Norman, have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for the right to vote on union representation.

The first was the N.W. 63rd and Grand store in Nichols Hills. Their workers have been voting and the votes will be counted Friday afternoon.

To learn more:

Nationwide effort

OKC baristas are part of a nationwide effort store-by-store to give union representation to baristas who want to negotiate the value of their own labor with the huge chain.

In response, the Starbucks corporation has hired one of the biggest anti-union law firms in the country to strategize efforts against the union movement.


Last Updated May 2, 2022, 9:14 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor