Supreme Court Ruling Makes Unionization Harder; Bloomington Starbucks Workers File for Union Election

Staff report

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — June 16, 2024

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a ruling that complicates the federal government’s ability to secure court orders against companies suspected of interfering in unionization efforts. The decision, which arose from a labor dispute involving Starbucks, has drawn sharp criticism from labor advocates.

Lynne Fox, President of Workers United, expressed dismay over the ruling in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Working people have so few tools to protect and defend themselves when their employers break the law. That makes today’s ruling by the Supreme Court particularly egregious,” Fox said. She criticized Starbucks for pursuing the case despite its stated commitment to improving relations with its workers.

The ruling comes at a time of heightened labor activity within Starbucks locations across the country. Earlier this week, workers at a second Starbucks location in Bloomington filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This filing is part of a broader wave of unionization efforts, with 18 Starbucks stores nationwide submitting petitions on the same day.

“Workers are continuing to organize. Just last week, workers at 20 Starbucks stores filed petitions to join Starbucks Workers United,” Fox noted in her statement. She emphasized the momentum of the union movement, which has seen significant growth despite challenges.

Mary Floreani, a media contact for Workers United, shared details about the Bloomington union efforts in a press release. Starbucks workers at the Indiana Ave location are seeking to join a national movement of over 10,500 baristas advocating for better working conditions, fair wages, and equitable treatment.

“In my five years as a barista, I’ve seen management demonstrate a lot less care for partners and shift their focus more and more to profits and corporate bonuses at the expense of us baristas and shift supervisors,” said Sophia Lee, a barista at the Bloomington store. She expressed optimism about the unionization efforts, citing widespread dissatisfaction with current working conditions.

Workers from the 18 stores filing petitions co-authored a letter to Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan, outlining their demands for higher wages, fair scheduling, improved benefits, and a safe workplace.

The Starbucks union campaign has seen considerable success since it began in 2021, with over 440 stores across 43 states winning union elections. The movement has been marked by peer-to-peer organizing and significant progress in negotiations, including “just cause” standards and education benefits for unionized workers.

The recent Supreme Court decision, while a setback, has not dampened the resolve of Starbucks workers. “Workers’ momentum is unstoppable, and they will not let the Supreme Court slow them down,” Fox asserted in her statement.

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