LANSING, Mich. — Starbucks workers in Lansing Township and East Lansing voted this week to unionize after joining a nationwide effort to get better working conditions in stores.
Now, they will head to the bargaining table, but will the coffee juggernaut meet them there?
Hannah Whitbeck was part of the effort to unionize at one Starbucks location in Ann Arbor.
She says she was fired after three years with the company.
She says it's because she was fighting for better wages and working conditions for her colleagues.
“The company is not living up to what they say they are. We wanted better pay for ourselves. Better pay for our partners that have been there for a long time. There should be more than just a 10 cent difference between me and a tenured partner, who has been there 13 years,” says Whitbeck.
This week, a total of 10 Michigan Starbucks locations held votes to unionize.
Eight voted yes, including two stores here in mid-Michigan, one on Lake Lansing Road in Lansing Township and one on east Grand River Avenue in East Lansing. Those workers are organizing as part of Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.
Now that the votes are in, employees will get to work on what comes next.
“We basically need to make a bargaining committee within each store. Then, each store needs to decide what they want to bargain for and to what extent,” Whitbeck says.
Whitbeck says she expects both sides to meet for contract negotiations within a month or so, and she plans to fight to get her job back.
FOX 47 News reached out to Starbucks corporate offices and did not receive a response, but during an earnings call last month, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said the company respects the rights of employees and will bargain where it's required to.
He then announced new investments for non-union stores.
So far, no date has been set for negotiations between workers and the company.
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