Castro Starbucks first in San Francisco to vote to unionize

On Tuesday afternoon, as the National Labor Relations Board tallied the votes, workers at the Castro Starbucks (4098 18th St.) voted 7 to 2 in favor of forming a union (there were 15 eligible voters; 9 ballots). The Castro store joins hundreds of other Starbucks unions in locations across the country that have taken similar action this year.

“We are very proud of today’s results,” said James Kreiss, a worker at the Castro site. “We hope this victory will also encourage our sister stores in San Francisco to seek union. Staff and customers have gone through the ringer this past year with inconsistent staffing and store availability – we appreciate the support our community has received. has shown us and continued support as we begin the long process of negotiations with Starbucks.”

The Castro Starbucks, affectionately known as Bearbucks, was closed for approximately four months, from mid-December to April 18. A Starbucks spokesperson called the closure a at Hoodline as a “facilities issue”, declining to comment further. Several employees at the Castro site told SFGATE that the store had struggled for years with a plumbing problem – specifically a rotten sewage smell – which they said caused the closure and repairs. (Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment.)

Public records confirm a 2019 complaint of a “sewer smell”, although there are no more recent complaints on file. Permits show that several sinks were replaced earlier in 2022 and a “final plumbing inspection” took place on March 1.

Workers at the Castro location have discussed the possibility of unionizing since the first Starbucks union was formed in Buffalo in early December 2021, but those conversations didn’t resume in earnest until early May 2022, when their store has been fully reopened, Kreiss says. During the four-month shutdown, Castro workers saw their hours drop, sometimes dramatically, as they searched for other locations in the Bay Area where they could take temporary shifts. This, according to several workers, is one of the many reasons why they wanted to vote to unionize.

Starbucks has five days to challenge the results of the vote. Otherwise, within a week, the results will be certified, according to the NLRB.

San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro, told SFGATE, “Congratulations to Castro Starbucks employees on their historic vote to become San Francisco’s first unionized Starbucks store. At a time of growing income inequality, successful efforts to organize low-wage workers in the private sector remind us that there is always power in a union and that San Francisco is still a union city. »

Supervisor Dean Preston, who recently author of a supporting resolution Starbucks workers’ right to organize, also sent a statement to SFGATE:

“It takes tremendous courage and determination to form a union, especially in a climate where too often big companies engage in blatant union busting. I’m proud of Starbucks employees here and across the country who are unionizing their workplaces.

The Bay Area may soon add another unionized Starbucks location: Starbucks workers at 2224 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley are expected to have their ballots counted by the NLRB next Monday, August 22.

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