Our Working Lives


Originally published in the Winter 2022 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 67, printed February 3. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Winter 2022 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

By Kat McNeal

Workers at two Richmond-area Starbucks stores, one at 6980 Forest Hill Avenue in the city and the other at 11136 Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County, have filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board for recognition of their union, Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

According to local news reports, the workers’ primary grievances are low wages, seniority pay issues and COVID-19 safety problems.

They are the first Starbucks locations to organize in Virginia, part of a growing movement at Starbucks stores across the country.

Starbucks is the world’s largest coffee chain, with more than 15,000 locations in the U.S. alone. Of its roughly 9,000 company-owned locations across the country, workers in around 50 shops have taken steps to unionize, including in Buffalo; Boston; Knoxville; Tallahassee; Chicago; Cleveland; Seattle; Mesa, Ariz.; Eugene, Ore.; Hopewell, N.J.; and Superior, Colo.

Contract negotiations at the first Starbucks store to unionize, in Buffalo, began Jan. 31.

Workers United formed in its current structure in 2009. It traces its history to the storied International Ladies Garment Workers Union, once one of the largest unions in the United States.

Categories: Our Working Lives

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