Oakland Starbucks becomes second in Pittsburgh to request union election | Labor | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Oakland Starbucks becomes second in Pittsburgh to request union election

On Fri., March 4, workers at the Amos Hall Starbucks, located on the University of Pittsburgh’s Oakland campus, became the second Starbucks store in Pittsburgh to go public with their demands for a safer, more democratic workplace, filing for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. In order to successfully certify their union, a majority of employees must vote in its favor.

Amos Hall's Fifth Avenue location joins a national wave of Starbucks stores that have begun organizing since workers at two Buffalo locations won their elections last year, becoming the first of 9,000 corporate-owned Starbucks locations in the country to successfully unionize. 

“More than 100 Starbucks locations throughout the U.S. have now petitioned for union elections, with many additional stores actively organizing to prepare to file for elections,” according to a press release from the Pennsylvania Joint Board, the Workers United and Service Employees International Union affiliate with whom local Starbucks workers hope to unionize.

In an open letter to Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson, the Amos Hall Starbucks Organizing Committee outlined their solidarity with the national organizing movement, as well as a series of grievances with the company, including the company cutting hours and chronic understaffing.

The Starbucks Organizing Committee wrote the following:

“Pittsburgh has a long standing history of being the epicenter of the labor rights movement. We hope to honor our city’s history by speaking up for what we believe is best for all parties involved. Here at store #27117, we take pride in working at Starbucks, we have found life long friends at Starbucks, and we have created meaningful customer relations while working here. ...

"Starbucks preaches about creating an inclusive and welcoming environment, and inspiring the human spirit," the committee continued. "We hope that the influx of unionizing across the country shows Starbucks that we are hoping for a collaboration, and that we are invested in the future of this company.”

According to a press release from the Pennsylvania Joint Board, “In the last week alone, Starbucks Workers United has filed more than 20 Unfair Labor Practice charges against the company for violations of the National Labor Relations Act ranging from a threat to shut down all stores in Buffalo, NY to discriminatory enforcement of policies at other stores.”

Amos Hall’s full letter is published on the Pennsylvania Joint Board’s website.

"We will continue listening and learning from the partners in these stores," a Starbucks spokesperson told Pittsburgh City Paper via email. "Our position hasn't changed in that we believe we are better together in our direct relationship as partners. We've also said that we respect our partners right to organize. We will continue to honor the NLRB's process and will bargain in good faith."

The Pennsylvania Joint Board is an affiliate of Workers United. Workers United has over 80,000 members in North America, working in the laundry, hospitality, manufacturing, apparel and textile, distribution, and food service industries including baristas. Workers United is an affiliate of Service Employees International Union.

This story was updated on Wed., March 9 at 5:15 p.m. to include a comment from Starbucks.