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Starbucks employees in Grand Rapids file to unionize following turbulent pandemic work environment

A majority of the staff is in favor of unionization due to low pay and hazardous working environments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit: Workers United - CMRJB

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Employees at the Burton Street Starbucks in Grand Rapids have filed to unionize, according to a letter addressed to Kevin Johnson, CEO of the worldwide coffee giant.

According to the letter, a majority of the staff is in favor of unionization due to low pay and hazardous working environments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are continuously disheartened because of insufficient pay which results in a struggle to afford basic care,” the letter reads. “During the midst of the pandemic, we’ve been subject to numerous policy changes and protocols that do not prioritize the health and well-being of partners.”

It continues to say that despite surges in COVID-19, the employees were “forced to operate as if we were working in pre-pandemic times.”

The letter also cites broken down equipment, prolonged and low-staffed shifts as reasons for filing.

“In reference to Starbuck’s core values, unionizing is an act of courage as we challenge the status quo,” it reads. “We would appreciate full cooperation from Corporate in our decision to unionize. We firmly believe that organizing best serves out partners, community, and company.”

The filing in West Michigan follows similar efforts recently announced by Starbucks partners from Buffalo, Memphis and Phoenix.

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