Unionization Efforts by Starbucks Employees Across the U.S. Encourage Other Industries to Follow Suit

unionizationIn December 2021, a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York became the company’s first store to become a unionized workplace in the U.S. after staff workers voted to join the union. The attempted unionization of three stores in Buffalo has since sparked momentum for additional Starbucks stores throughout the country, though only one shop in the NY town has succeeded in their efforts. 

Among the two other stores, one was rejected, and the other faces a legal battle after failing to reach a verdict. Since late last year, over 100 other Starbucks stores have joined the unionization push. However, this domino effect of unionization attempts by Starbucks staff didn’t start in the states. According to NPR, employees at a corporate Starbucks location in Canada unionized prior to the attempts of three locations in Buffalo, NY and one in Mesa, Arizona. 

Now, workers at a Starbucks in Madison, Wisconsin have publicly announced their intent to join the nationwide pursuit of unionization for the coffee chain’s employees. They’ll be joining two other Wisconsin stores in their organization efforts, along with 150 other stores across 27 states. According to a Huffpost article, eight U.S. location have succeeded in unionizing. 

Workers at other big-name brands, such as Amazon, are also reconsidering their roles amid a tighter labor market and higher wages, otherwise referred to as the Great Resignation. As a result, these employees have felt the encouragement of recent union movements.  Warehouse staff at Amazon, for example, are pushing for better pay and working conditions as well as a say in the management of day-to-day operations. The director of Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations division in Buffalo, Catherine Creighton, sums up her insights in a CNBC article: “Employees are feeling powerless, and this solidarity gives them some power.” 

Although union membership rates slightly fell from 2020-2021, this year’s events could make a large impact on those numbers. Furthermore, the country’s approval ratings for unions are inching towards record-highs; 68% of Americans approved of labor unions in 2021, just short of the 71% high in 1965. 

Since shareholders of publicly traded companies may not see unionizing as beneficial for their bottom line, experts forecast a balancing act between treating employees more fairly while warding off undesired unionization. Only time will tell how many of the 150 Starbucks stores across the U.S. will succeed in their unionization efforts throughout the rest of 2022 and beyond. 

You can hear Angela’s take on COVID-19 return to work policies in this recent Spectrum News1 feature. To follow her insights on issues related to unions and other employment, labor law, human resources, and workplace topics, visit her website at www.angelareddock-wright.com.

You may also follow her on Facebook and Instagram @iamangelareddockwright.com, LinkedIn at angelareddock-wright, and tune-in to her radio show KBLA Talk 1580’s Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright each Saturday and Sunday at 11am PST, or catch past episodes on Anchor.fm/Spotify. For media inquiries for Angela, please reach out to monty@kwsmdigital.com.


Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal and Media Commentator 

Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, mediator, arbitrator, and certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH) in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues. Furthermore, she’s been named a “Top 50 Woman Attorney” in California by Super Lawyers, a “Top California Employment Lawyer” by the Daily Journal and one of Los Angeles’ “Most Influential Minority and Women Attorneys” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, NewsNation, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.

Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Judicate West, a California dispute resolution company. She also owns her own dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation, arbitration, and investigation of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments; and other private and public sector workplaces.

Reddock-Wright has also launched her own radio show, Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright, airing on Tavis Smiley’s new KBLA Talk 1580 radio station on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. PT with replays on subsequent Sundays. Listeners may tune-in by downloading the APP @kbla1580 and call the PowerLines at 1-800-920-1580.  You can listen to past episodes on Anchor.Fm/Spotify.

For more information regarding resources for employers, businesses, and employees during this time, connect with her on LinkedIn for new updates, or contact her here. You may also follow her on Instagram.

This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.

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