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Economy

Starbucks workers in the Ann Arbor area vote on whether to unionize

Employees at the five locations included in The Starbucks Workers United Huron Valley Coalition are voting whether to authorize a union.
Rachel Ishikawa
/
Michigan Radio
Employees at the five locations included in The Starbucks Workers United Huron Valley Coalition are voting whether to authorize a union. Pictured are employees of the State & Liberty location, photographed earlier this spring.

Starbucks workers in the Ann Arbor area are voting on whether to unionize.

Employees at the five locations included in the Starbucks Workers United Huron Valley Coalition received ballots by mail early last week.

Votes will be counted on June 7. They need a majority vote to authorize a union.

The five stores will each be voting individually.

In statements to news outlets, Starbucks has said it's committed to working with its store employees as partners, but believes the company is better off without unions.

The Ann Arbor-area stores filed to unionize in February, but Starbucks challenged the petitions with the National Labor Relations Board, arguing the workers needed to vote as a district, not as individual stores.

The labor board rejected May 9, allowing workers to vote by individual store.

Bennett Proegler is a shift supervisor at the Starbucks on Zeeb Road outside Ann Arbor.

"It's really exciting to hear all of our partners stories about how they still want to feel empowered, and do this union effort, despite all of Starbuck's anti-union tactics," Proegler said.

He also said the process has drawn employees closer together.

"It's really creating a better partnership within our store,” he said. “And hopefully, on June 7, we'll realize that this partnership can be expanded to our corporate partners, and we can hopefully have a better relationship with our management."

Although the stores are voting individually, Proegler said he hopes the locations can continue to coordinate their efforts.

“We're still voting to authorize the union at each store,” he said. “However, we are deeply working together, all of our efforts are coordinated. And we're still trying to figure out the legal way that we can bargain as one unit while still voting individually by the store. But we're still talking with our lawyers to make sure that we can do that.”

In a recent newsletter, the Starbucks Workers United Huron Valley Coalition said “Victory Rallies” will be held at the stores if the unions are authorized.

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