Get your expressions of stunned awe ready here, because the Starbucks union has reached a truly amazing milestone: 200 unionized Starbucks stores. Of those, 52 voted unanimously to unionize, labor reporter Steve Greenhouse notes, with the union winning about five out of six stores to vote.
Last summer, when the organizing drive kicked off in Buffalo, unionizing one corporate-owned Starbucks seemed like a long shot. (Some Starbucks stores in airports and other locations are already unionized.) When the first Buffalo store voted yes, it seemed—and was—monumental. This momentum is historic and astonishing.
But management remains viciously opposed to just … working with its workers. The stores the company has recently closed show how it is targeting union stores for closure: “3% of Starbucks stores nationwide are in the process of unionizing,” More Perfect Union reports. “Yet somehow, 30% of the stores Starbucks is closing have active union campaigns.” That’s in addition to the company’s campaign of harassment and illegal firing of worker-activists, which is taking a toll.
Between the historic string of wins for the union and the company’s cruel and often illegal union-busting campaign, we’re seeing both the possibilities of building worker power in the United States and one of the key reasons it’s so difficult.