Two Arizona Starbucks Are on the Path to Unionize

Michelle Eisen, fourth from right, a barista at the Buffalo, NY, Elmwood Starbucks location, the first Starbuck location to unionize, announces to the local Starbucks Workers United, employees of a local Starbucks, who were gathered at a local union hall to cast votes to unionize or not, a delay in the vote, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, in Mesa, Ariz. The NLRB delayed the vote due to an appeal by Starbucks. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

By Camaron Stevenson

February 22, 2022

The nationwide wave of support for labor unions has hit two Valley Starbucks locations.

After decades of decline, labor unions have a new reason for hope: younger workers.

Workers in their 20s—and even in their teens—are leading ongoing efforts to unionize companies large and small, including a Starbucks in Mesa, at the intersection of Power and Baseline Roads. 

After two Starbucks stores in Buffalo, New York, voted to unionize late last year, workers at more than 70 Starbucks stores in 21 states petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold their own union elections, according to Workers United, the union organizing the effort.

But the Mesa Starbucks’ unionization effort was put on hold Wednesday after Starbucks submitted a request that a decision by a regional NLRB director to allow individual stores to vote on unionizing instead of opening the decision to a district or market-wide vote be put under review.

The request for review was approved by NLRB, and votes from 43 Starbucks employees were impounded by the organization until they complete their review.

“This is just a delayed victory… they’re winning ballots and we just need to be able to count them,” said Michelle Eisen, a union member from Buffalo who was in Mesa for the vote.

Multiple polls show union approval is high—and growing—among the youngest workers. And US union membership levels are even ticking upward for workers between 25 and 34, even as they decline among other age groups. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership among workers ages 25 to 34 is up 7.5% since 2011, but down nearly 9% for workers age 35 and older. 

Employees of one other Starbucks location in Arizona—located at the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix—have also announced plans to organize and form a union. 

Supporters of Starbucks employee unionization efforts have been frequenting the locations where workers are organizing, with some leaving large tips or using pseudonyms for their order to show their support.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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