Local businesses push to unionize, bargain with companies like Starbucks and Apple

Starbucks workers in Richmond Heights joined hundreds of stores nationwide by striking Thursday.
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 7:01 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- The frustration among some Starbucks employees across the Metro has reached a new level.

“We just want to live better, there is no reason why we should be living paycheck to paycheck or having to suffer burnout,” said Lydia Berry.

Berry is an employee at the Starbucks at 1216 Hampton Avenue. Today, the store did not open, and instead, workers took to the streets and outside on the store’s parking lot as part of a nationally organized walkout.

“This is one of five locations in St. Louis that has officially won their union election, and one of three that’s on strike today,” said Grace Easterby, who is the campaign director for Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United (CMRJB).

More than 100 Starbucks locations around the country took part in today’s walkout, a one-day strike against the company in an effort to get the company to take workers’ demands for better pay and working conditions seriously and let unionized locations have a seat at the bargaining table.

This is the largest labor action campaign workers have done since locations began efforts to unionize this year. The Hampton location voted to unionize back in June, but workers say Starbucks corporate representatives have resisted sitting down and negotiating contracts with them around higher wages, hazard pay, and better scheduling.

“We had blocked an 8-hour slot to bargain and after four minutes they left, so the ball is really in Starbucks’ court. We’re just waiting on them to sit and act like civilized adults,” said Berry.

“Each day we get stronger, and we’ll fight more escalating tactics, rallying, striking, picketing, whatever it takes for them to sit down and give us a contract,” said Easterby.

CMRJB is the union representing local Starbucks employees.

“I think people post-COVID have just had enough, and they’re ready to take power back in the workplace and they see unionizing as a way to do that, to take power as workers,” said Easterby.

Starbucks is not the only major company in the Metro that has taken a stance on unionizing.

“When employees are flourishing, they do better work,” said Daniel Bertilson.

Bertilson is one of 82 employees at the Apple store in the St. Louis Galleria now moving forward with companies like Starbucks to unionize.

This week, the store filed a petition to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union. They are waiting on Apple’s response so a vote can be held.

Like Starbucks workers, Bertilson hopes they can work together with their company to bargain for a better future in their workplace.

“Taking into account not only inflation but time at the company and that meaning something,” said Bertilson. “We want to feel like our time is valued because we are doing the best work of our lives, like we are creating amazing customer experience.”