The Coffeehouse Saga Keeps Brewing

by | Mar 31, 2022 | Hospitality, IBT, NLRB

Starbucks’ hole in the dike already hit flood status, which is spreading amongst the coffeehouse industry. Two Storyville Coffee locations petitioned to unionize under the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and the NLRB recently recognized the Milwaukee-based Colectivo Coffee Roasters as unionized under the Teamsters.

Over at Starbucks, developments continue to come fast and furious with three more stores (in Buffalo, New York) voting to join Starbucks Workers United in one afternoon. While the total number of unionized Starbucks currently stands at fewer than 10, it’s worth noting that the total number of organizing locations tops 130 (the trend is spreading to Canada), although that’s still only a fraction of the chain’s 9,000 locations.

Trouble’s still brewing as much as the coffee, though. The NLRB issued a formal complaint (paywall) against Starbucks after complaints from Arizona employees who alleged suspension and termination over their union support. Buffalo employees accused the coffeehouse giant of threatening to close down stores that are plagued with union activity while allegedly barring organizing employees from meetings.

All of this is happening amid current Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson announcing that he’ll retire (after serving five years in his position) with former CEO Howard Schultz returning in an interim capacity with further developments to come.

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