Grassroots mojo and 4 other reasons Starbucks workers have been so successful unionizing
Starbucks Workers United won its 100th election on May 27, 2022 – fittingly, in Seattle, the company’s hometown. And the union has notched another 46 victories in the just over two weeks since then. It comes six months after organizers won their first two union victories, in Buffalo, New. York.
Although each unionized workplace is small, with a couple dozen employees apiece, the campaign is already, by my reckoning, one of the most successful unionizing efforts in recent U.S. history, with victories in 28 states. Over 100 additional Starbucks outlets have petitioned to unionize and are awaiting elections in the coming days and weeks, and several other votes are awaiting resolution. Starbucks has strongly opposed the campaign, and the union has lost about 22 elections so far.
The overwhelming success of the Starbucks labor organizing efforts is inspiring workers at other retailers, such as Amazon, REI, Apple and Trader Joe’s, which have all seen an increase in organizing activity or even their first unions.
When the Starbucks unionizing movement was in its infancy, few observers believed that the campaign could spread so quickly or win so many elections, often by huge margins. Indeed, a few years ago, most union officials would have thought it impossible to organize a young and often transient low-wage service sector workforce spread across almost 9,000 small stores. And most union drives in recent decades, such as at Walmart and FedEx, have failed.