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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

business & economy bloomington

Bloomington Eastside Starbucks employees gain IGWC-UE support in unionization efforts

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Employees at the Bloomington Eastside Starbucks are visiting other Starbucks locations across the city to gain support for their recently announced unionization efforts. According to Bloomington Eastside barista Stefanie Sharp, employees have visited all non-franchise Starbucks locations in Bloomington.

The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition United Electrical Workers also expressed their support for the Bloomington Eastside Starbucks unionization efforts in a tweet Monday.

“Our union rep was talking about how, especially in college towns, once the flame is lit it just bursts,” Sharp said. “We’re kind of excited to move the campaign on to other stores, but we still have to win our election first.”

Workers at the Bloomington Eastside Starbucks, located at Third Street and 46 Bypass, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to unionize with Starbucks Workers United Monday. Starbucks Workers United is a collective of more than 315 U.S. Starbucks Partners across the country. According to a Starbucks Workers United press release, employees are asking for better working conditions, fair wages and more consistent scheduling within the store. Employees are asking for the recognition of their union as the collective bargaining agent for all permanent hourly full-time and part-time employees in the store – excluding store managers and assistant store managers as defined by the NLRB, according to the press release.

[Related: Bloomington Eastside Starbucks employees unionize with Starbucks Workers United]

Sharp said that, to her knowledge, the store employees have not yet received an official response from Starbucks corporate leaders. However, she said the store manager – who is not eligible to vote in the union – is planning to meet with all shift supervisors.

Sharp said that in addition to short staffing, the Eastside Starbucks location was left without a store manager from May 10 to June 5. She said the assistant store manager had to fulfill all managerial duties.

In a letter sent to Starbucks CEO Laxman Narashimhan Monday, Eastside Starbucks employees said the store’s Pride flag was taken down at the beginning of June, which is recognized as LGBTQ Pride month. Sharp said the new store manager, who started on June 5, took down the Pride Flag on her first day.

According to Sharp, although the manager expressed she did not morally agree with taking down the flag — which was hung on a door facing the main entrance — she said the decision came from leadership above her. Immediately after the flag was taken down, Sharp said employees walked to the back of the store, leaving the store inoperable for approximately an hour.

In response to employees walking off the job in response to the store manager removing the flag, Sharp said one of the store employees was permitted to create a new Pride display in the store.

[Related: IU graduate workers facing fewer doctoral student admissions in the future, petition for raise]

In response to these allegations, a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement to FOX59 that the company has not banned Pride decorations and that there has been no change to company policy on decorations in stores. The statement also said partners in all U.S. company-owned stores are encouraged to find ways to celebrate Pride and other heritage months within the framework of Starbucks’ operational standards, appearance guidelines and dress code policies.

“We unwaveringly support the LGBTQIA2+ community,” the spokesperson said in the statement. “We remain deeply concerned by false information being spread about our inclusive environments, our company culture and the benefits we offer our partners.”

The spokesperson said that all partner reported concerns on the store’s pride decorations have been “routed for leadership review and to be addressed.” Additionally, in the statement of FOX59, the spokesperson addressed allegations about cutting employee hours.

“Partner work schedules are published on a regular, rolling basis three-weeks in advance and are built based on recorded partner availability and the unique operational needs of each store,” the statement said. “To provide additional schedule flexibility for our partners, we also provide partners the ability to view and pick-up additional shifts at their home store and other stores within their district.”

[Related: Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition calls for 8% cost of living adjustment]

The Bloomington Eastside Starbucks location is the third company-owned store to unionize in Indiana. Employees at the LaPorte and Silhavy store in Valparaiso Indiana unionized in February and employees at a location in Clarksville unionized in June 2022.

“I get the sense that we’re ready for the fight,” Sharp said. “That no matter what happens, we’re going to have each other’s backs, because that’s what filing for a union is at the end of the day.”

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to relect that Bloomington Eastside Starbucks employees walked to the back of the store after a store manager took down a Pride Flag and that the positions excluded from the petition are defined by the National Labor Relations Board.

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