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On January 6, workers at the Starbucks store on 29th and Willamette in Eugene filed for a union election, the first store to do so in Oregon. They joined Starbucks Workers United which has organized 100 shops across the country. This fast growing movement was sparked by workers in Buffalo, New York; that formed the first ever Starbucks union on December 9th.
Workers at three more local Starbucks stores at, 7th &Washington, Oakway Mall, and Franklin & Villard, joined in by filing for union elections at the end of January. On February 4th, workers at two more stores additionally filed for union elections, the UO EMU and Delta & Green Acres. Eugene now has six shops is currently tied with fellow college town Ann Arbor for the most stores to file for union elections, according to NLRB filings presented by the website Union Elections Data.
Workers in Eugene have been supported by Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN) in their organizing efforts. ESSN organized a community support rally on January 27 in front of the 29th & Willamette where around 75 people showed up. The local labor movement was well represented, including members of GTFF, Teamsters, SEIU, AFSCME, IBEW, and IATSE.
ESSN has started a GoFundMe to help support organizing workers in paying their bills. Workers have spoken out about not receiving a livable wage and rumors of hours cuts facing union organizers.
Starbucks has already shown that they are ready to use all of their union busting tactics in the toolbox. According to NLRB filings, the company has hired at least 30 attorneys from Littler Mendelson to stall union elections. In 2016 Littler attorneys had an average rate of $550/hr. Additionally corporate has been sending down people from management to have two-on-one conversations with workers to dissuade them from joining the union.
On February 8, Starbucks fired seven workers in Memphis that were part of a unionization effort there. Workers across the country stood up in solidarity with the workers including in Eugene, where workers and community members spoke out on this issue on February 18th.
“Starbucks doesn’t treat us like partners, but we’re willing to treat each other like partners,”Jessica Jaszewski, a worker at the Franklin & Villard store on why she showed up in solidarity for the Memphis workers.