A Starbucks in Cheyenne has become the first of the coffee giant’s outlets in Wyoming to unionize.
The National Labor Relations Board conducted a vote Monday, with workers at the 2111 Central Ave. location voting 8-5 in favor of unionizing.
“It feels really great to be successful,” Madison Oates, a shift supervisor at the store, told Cowboy State Daily after the result was announced.
State Sen. Evie Brennan, R-Cheyenne, told Cowboy State Daily that there can be pros and cons to unionizing.
“It’ll be interesting to see how this affects that Starbucks,” Brennan said.
Brennan said she buys coffee at the store and hopes that unionizing doesn’t lead to increased prices. She said with inflationary pressures, it’s becoming harder to treat herself to Starbucks coffee.
“I’m not able to buy as much foofy coffee at Starbucks or anywhere else like I used to because the prices are so high,” Brennan said.
She said if it gets much worse, she’ll have to make coffee at home.
Andrew Trull, Starbucks senior manager of corporate communications, told Cowboy State Daily that union representation is not expected to increase costs at the store.
'Crap And Lies'
Melanie Manchester, who works as a supervisor at the store, had opposed unionization. She told Cowboy State Daily that, even though the vote was 8-5, there was one employee who was out of town and couldn’t vote.
So, the pro-union workers won by two votes in her mind.
She said those who didn’t want to be in the union now have no choice but to join. Otherwise, they have to find another job.
“I’m definitely looking for another job,” Manchester said.
She said the store’s managers don’t have to join the union.
“They just have to deal with the union’s crap and lies,” Manchester said.
She said she believes other employees who didn’t want to unionize will also be looking for new jobs.
Tammy Johnson, executive secretary of the Wyoming AFL-CIO, told Cowboy State Daily that employees at the unionized store will not have to join the union.
“Wyoming is a ‘right to work’ state. Workers do not have to join the union if they don’t want to," she said. "They will still get the same negotiated benefits as those who pay union dues.”
Trull said the vote is just one step in a lengthy process before any agreements are made between Starbucks and the union.
The NLRB will have to certify the outcome of the vote. After Workers United identifies a bargaining representative for the store, the company and union will meet in-person to begin negotiations.
The parties will make proposals and counter proposals, and hopefully reach an agreement on specific contract terms.
Starbucks will draft a store-specific collective bargaining agreement once the negotiations are complete, and then the unionized employees will either accept or reject the agreement.
The contract, Trull said, is specific to the store and not a national contract governing all union-represented stores, which was a request from Workers United.
Backs Of Workers
Johnson said that workers at the store unionized despite “managerial efforts at retaliation, hostility in the workplace and big corporate efforts to undermine their legal right to collectively bargain for decent working conditions.”
She said that unions are on the rise, and Wyoming is no exception.
“We are seeing workers in all kinds of workplaces file for and achieve union status. Tired of being trod upon, workers are standing up to large corporations who make insane profits off the backs of those who work for them,” Johnson said.
Trull denied that Starbucks ever engaged in any retaliatory efforts against the pro-union employees.
“To be clear: We respect the right of all partners to make their own decisions about union representation, and we are committed to engaging in good faith collective bargaining for each store where a union has been appropriately certified,” Trull said.
Like It Was
Christina Frakes, a shift supervisor and member of the organizing committee, said in a statement that when she started working for Starbucks 10 years ago, it was a fun place to work. Since that time, the workplace environment has declined considerably.
“Seeing how far this company has fallen from its original values, it will be good to implement change as workers and bring those values back,” Frakes said.
Johnson said that the 14,000 union members in Wyoming applaud the Starbucks employees.
They “welcome them to Wyoming’s growing union family, where safe jobs, just compensation, fair working conditions, and the ability to retire with dignity are what we strive for,” Johnson said.
Trull said that as a result of Starbucks’ employees job satisfaction, 97% of the company’s 9,300 U.S. stores have chosen to maintain a direct employment relationship with the company.
He said Starbucks offers an average wage of $17.50 per hour, comprehensive medical, dental and vision coverage, tuition reimbursement, paid parental leave and a 401(k) matching program.
Barista turnover rates were reduced by more than 9% in the second quarter of fiscal year 2022, Trull said.
“Workers United continues to spread false information about our benefits, policies and negotiation efforts — a tactic used to seemingly divide our partners and deflect from their failure to respond to bargaining sessions for more than 200 stores,” Trull said.
Kevin Killough can be reached at Kevin@cowboystatedaily.com.