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Four Michigan Starbucks stores join unionizing efforts

green starbucks sign in front of a dark background
Henry & Co.

Four Michigan Starbucks stores are among those across the country choosing to unionize.

The three stores in Ann Arbor and one in Lansing join other baristas in Ann Arbor, Grand Blanc. and Clinton Township who have chosen to unionize.

In a letter sent to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson on Friday, union members said:

"We routinely feel as if we are being ignored by Starbucks upper management when new policies continuously come from the top down with little avenue for partner feedback... We routinely suffer abuse at the hands of uncaring customers, while lean staffing practices mean we have very little time to respond to negative or positive customer interactions. We have been demanded to act as therapists or sponsors for our homeless population... with no additional training or compensation. We have put our lives on the line to serve the public and further this company’s success. Things need to change. We need to move from a system that treats partners as disposable employees to a more sustainable, true partnership... We, the union organizing committee at Main & Liberty respectfully and formally demand that Starbucks recognize our union.”

Starbucks officials said that they intend to respect how votes turn out among employees attempting to unionize.

"We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. Our position hasn't changed: Starbucks success—past, present, and future—is built on how we partner together, always with our mission and values at our core," a Starbucks spokesperson said by email.

"Many of us really like our jobs and like working for Starbucks. But we’ve also noticed a lot of issues in how the upper levels of Starbucks have responded to our concerns and how they’ve treated us," said Lena Schramm, an Ann Arbor employee who has worked at the store for over two years.

Schramm says the reasons for unionizing vary but the ultimate goal is for the employees to have their voices heard.

The four stores deciding to unionize are:

  • 2624 Lake Lansing Rd., Lansing
  • 222 S State St., Ann Arbor
  • 1214 South University Ave., Ann Arbor
  • 300 South Main St., Ann Arbor
Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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