Christiansburg Starbucks baristas win union election, joining nationwide movement

(AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File) (Joshua Bessex, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – A Christiansburg Starbucks has become the 18th Starbucks location in Virginia to unionize with Starbucks Workers United, joining a nationwide movement to create better working environments at Starbucks coffee shops throughout the U.S.

So far, more than 410 stores and 10,000 workers across the country have joined the union in an ongoing fight to secure justice at work, specifically when it comes to protections on core issues such as respect, living wages, racial and gender equity and fair scheduling.

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Workers United referred to it as a monumental victory and said it is a strong indicator of the union’s success with the coffee giant in its efforts to reach a first contract with unionized baristas in what’s been described as one of the fastest-growing organizing campaigns in modern history.

“I’m really proud of my fellow partners for coming together to secure yet another amazing win for SBWU, and I look forward to a future that facilitates a similar and even stronger unity, not just for Starbucks but for workers all across America,” said Gwynn McCord, a shift supervisor at the Christiansburg Starbucks.

This announcement comes after unionized Starbucks workers reached a labor agreement with the company in February to start a discussion with the goal being to “reach a foundational framework for collective bargaining agreements for represented stores and partners,” which you can read more about here.

Since 2021, 419 Starbucks stores in 43 states and the District of Columbia have successfully unionized, according to Workers United.

Starbucks’ recent commitment to its unionized workforce is a major shift, as Starbucks had engaged in illegal union-busting tactics and refused to negotiate. In more than 50 separate decisions, federal administrative law judges have found that Starbucks has committed more than 400 violations of federal labor law, including dozens of unlawful firings, refusing to bargain, and unlawfully providing non-union workers higher wages and better benefits than workers who voted to form a union. Starbucks union workers remain determined in their demand for fair pay and hours, safe working conditions, and a commitment to quality and culture that reflects the Starbucks brand they built – and will continue to hold Starbucks accountable to its new promise to reach agreement.

Starbucks Workers United

A spokesperson for Starbucks provided a statement to 10 News in response to the union election.

On February 27, the company and Workers United agreed to begin discussions on a foundational framework designed to help achieve ratified bargaining agreements, resolve certain litigation and address other issues. We are eager to reach ratified agreements in 2024 for stores that have already voted for union representation.

We respect the rights of our partners to organize and bargain collectively, and we are eager to reach ratified agreements in 2024 for represented stores.

We are committed to delivering on our promise to offer a bridge to a better future to all Starbucks partners.

Rachel Wall, Starbucks spokesperson

About the Authors

Jazmine Otey joined the 10 News team in February 2021.

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.

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