Oregon’s first union Starbucks

By COLIN STAUB

By a 17-0 vote, a Eugene Starbucks at 2830 Willamette St. became Oregon’s first unionized location. In the next month, ballots will be counted at a dozen more Oregon stores.

The union is Workers United, a branch of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Field Examiner Emily Wiant counted the ballots April 13 as workers and lawyers for both sides watched online. 

Baristas and union supporters also gathered at the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation union office on East 13th Street in Eugene to watch the count. As Wiant ticked off the last of the ballots, Starbucks workers and supporters erupted. People were jumping up and down, cheering, running outside to exclaim the victory. 

Jake LaMourie, a worker at the store, lay on the couch and felt immense relief at the results.

“The only thing I said for the next five minutes was just this exasperated, relieved, ‘Oh my god,’” LaMourie told the Labor Press.

LaMourie felt confident going into the election, knowing they needed only a simple majority to win. But the unanimous result was a surprise.

The workers filed for an election Jan. 7, one of the first Starbucks locations around the country to do so after a December union victory at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York. By mid-April, more than 210 petitions had been filed nationwide.

In what has become its standard playbook, Starbucks had appealed to prevent or postpone the Eugene election, but the NLRB dismissed the appeal the day before the election, finding that the company raised no new arguments compared with previous cases where it unsuccessfully tried to stop elections.

Howard Schultz—who returned as Starbucks CEO the beginning of April, taking over from CEO Kevin Johnson—continues to dismiss the fact that organizing is being driven almost entirely by employees themselves. (Workers United has one staff rep working remotely on the Starbucks campaign for the entire Pacific Northwest region). 

“It’s important for all of you to recognize that outside labor unions are attempting to sell a very different view of what Starbucks should be, Schultz told employees April 10.

Workers at the Eugene store want higher wages. LaMourie said workers who don’t have a second job often live paycheck to paycheck.

Starbucks corporate representatives visited the store to hold two-on-one meetings with employees to dissuade union interest, but they haven’t communicated with workers since the vote.

“I’m not expecting to hear from corporate until we’re at the bargaining table,” LaMourie said.

A Starbucks spokesperson, asked by the Labor Press whether the company will bargain in good faith, said Starbucks “is 100% committed to following the NLRB process.”


More Starbucks vote counts coming in oregon

April 28

  • 1895 Franklin Boulevard, Eugene (filed Jan. 31)
  • 65 Oakwood Center, Eugene (filed Jan. 31)
  • 495 West 7th Avenue, Eugene (filed Jan. 31)
  • 3003 North Delta Hwy., Ste. 301, Eugene (filed Feb. 4)
  • 1395 University Street, Eugene (filed Feb. 4)

May 5

  • 3110 West 11th Avenue, Eugene (filed Feb. 28)
  • 1115 Valley River Drive, Eugene (filed March 1)

May 17

  • 2328 W Burnside Street, #2, Portland (filed March 4)
  • 2880 SE Powell Blvd., Portland (filed March 4)
  • 555 SW Oak Street, Portland (filed March 4)
  • 525 NE Grand Avenue, Portland (filed March 11)

May 24

  • 7001 SE Milwaukie Ave., Portland (filed March 18)

Upcoming union elections that aren’t yet scheduled

  • 16175 SW Walker Road, Beaverton (filed Jan. 31)
  • 2933 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton (filed Jan. 31)
  • 7315 SW Garden Home Road, Portland (filed Feb. 1)
  • 12235 N Center Ave, Portland (filed March 30)
  • 1102 NW Lovejoy St., Portland (filed April 11)

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