Starbucks unionization wave hits New Orleans – Liberation News
New Orleans Starbucks workers at 7700 Maple Street are the first in the city to apply for union certification, amid dozens of nationwide organizing efforts at the nation’s largest coffee chain. country.
Despite a 39% rise in profits in 2021 and recent price hikes, Starbucks workers, known as partners, remain overworked and underpaid. With the help of Starbucks Workers United, a collective of partners that helps stores organize, and the support of the local community, the Maple Street Partners seek to thwart the company’s anti-union efforts and become the first Starbucks in Louisiana to join the 50+ Starbucks. places to unionize nationally.
From May 6-8, Maple Street Partners staged a series of sit-ins at Starbucks stores 7700 Maple, 5335 Freret and 2851 S Clairborne. The sit-ins were supported by the Southern Workers’ Assembly, a worker-led network that provides support to workers organizing in the South.
Poor working conditions reflect national trend
Billie Nyx, who worked at Starbucks for three years and spearheaded the organizing effort on Maple Street, cites overwork, under-hours and lack of benefits as top complaints prompting unionization.
“The issues with Starbucks are nationwide,” Nyx told Liberation News during a May 7 sit-in on Maple street. “With almost every store you go to, you’re going to face understaffing, under-hours, stretched people.”
Launch of the organizing effort
The organizing effort on Maple Street began in early March, when worker abuse reached a breaking point.
“Around Mardi Gras, when they cut our hours and we were seeing record profits in business, we were so overworked and stressed and we were like, ‘we have to do something now,'” Nyx said. that’s when i started having conversations with each of our partners… After confirming as much support as possible, i started printing union cards and getting people to sign.
After Nyx and their fellow Maple Street partners launched the fight, Starbucks Workers United stepped in to help.
Starbucks Workers United formed in 2021 in Buffalo, New York, in conjunction with the immigrant garment worker organization Workers United Upstate. They help partners nationwide circumvent company misinformation campaigns, negotiate contracts, and provide material and financial support.
Solidarity of workers is essential
While the struggle for unionization on Maple Street is fueled by solidarity among partners within the store, solidarity among partners at various Starbucks stores across the city and nation also advances the collective fight for workers’ rights. Additionally, local community support is also critical to Starbucks partner organizing efforts, both in New Orleans and nationally.
An example of this solidarity in action is the sit-ins that have been organized at several Starbucks locations in the area. “It’s really good for us to have these sit-ins so everyone behind the counter knows there are people in their corner who want to support them,” Nyx said.
Fans can also leave positive reviews for workers to protect them from retaliation: “Every Starbucks store has business cards for the district manager, so you can email them good reviews from your barista and he’ll harder for Starbucks to retaliate against them.
Another example is a recent workers’ barbeque on May 28, co-hosted by Maple partners and the Southern Workers’ Assembly. The event provided an opportunity for partners and their supporters across the city to share their skills and organizing stories with a larger community of workers.
On building lasting worker power, Meg, organizer of the Southern Workers Assembly, said: “The first step is to connect workers who are in different work sites but in the same company or same industry… Any one of these bosses could close just one store, but every time we have a move in all the stores… we have more power and leverage to close it, and ultimately to win the claims we’re talking about – like decent wages, like decent working conditions, like safe staff, like paid sick leave.
Meg also highlighted the importance of organizing across industries: “It’s always been part of our organizing culture, whenever workers organize and fight back, we’re going to mobilize and support each other. …because every time Starbucks workers win, Amazon workers win, hospitality workers win, TV workers win.
The fight goes on
Like many union organizers, Nyx was fired in what appears to be retaliatory action by Starbucks. However, Nyx and Starbucks partners are continuing their organizing efforts through ongoing sit-ins and other community events leading up to the upcoming Maple Street election and beyond.
Nyx stressed the importance of organization: “I just have this message for other baristas: you have the power to do it right, and it only takes one person to say, ‘I’m going to work, I’m going organize Everybody.'”
The union election will take place on June 3 and 4. Follow @sbworkerspmaplestreet on Instagram for updates on this labor campaign.