KENNEWICK—A nationwide campaign to unionize Starbucks workers claimed its first Tri-Cities area victory this week as employees at a Prosser store voted 21-6 to join Starbucks Workers United.
The store at Merlot Drive and Wine Country Road is the 22nd operating Starbucks location in Washington, home of the Seattle coffee giant, to unionize.
This week’s vote came after workers in Prosser filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to unionize with Starbucks Workers United in August. Workers cited lost work hours, lost benefits and being forced to work when ill for making the move.
Katy Tollefson, a barista who organized colleagues in Prosser together with Damian Lozano, called the outcome a “monumental win” in a news release issued by Starbucks Workers United.
“I look forward to working with Workers United and Starbucks to make sure everyone in the store has a great partner experience,” she said.
Starbucks previously said its relationship with employees is core to its culture. Starbucks said it invested more than $1.4 billion in the past year on new benefits to making it easier for customers to tip.
The company notes it pays an average wage of $17.50 an hour, or $27 when benefits are computed, exclusive of tips.
To date, 10 stores in Seattle, two in the Olympia area, two in Bellingham and one each in Everett, Marysville, North Bend, Redmond, Shoreline, Spokane and Walla Walla have voted to unionize, according to Workers United.
One Seattle shop rejected the union and two additional votes are pending at Seattle area locations,.
The national unionization movement is driven by worker demands concerning working conditions, wages and consistent schedules.