Starbucks customers support baristas' union drive, study finds

Nearly 70% believe employees deserve an advocate on compensation, safety and scheduling.
Photograph: Shutterstock

About 7 of 10 Starbucks customers support efforts by employees of the chain to unionize their stores, with patrons’ love of the brand closely correlating with the strength of their sympathy for the organizing efforts, according to research from a pro-union group.

The findings are based on a survey of 2,515 consumers by Blue Rose Research for the labor advocacy group More Perfect Union. About 40% of the participants said they had visited a Starbucks within the prior six months.

Of that group, 69% said they supported the unit-by-unit organizing effort of baristas. A running tally kept by More Perfect Union shows that about 107 stores have taken steps to unionize as of Feb. 25. To date, the union drive has succeeded in three locations, including a unit in Mesa, Ariz., that voted in collective bargaining last week.

The survey found that the effort has the support of the public as a whole. About 67% of all the respondents indicated they believe Starbucks needs a union to ensure workers receive higher compensation and benefits, are protected against COVID and other threats, and can negotiate a fair work schedule.

But the canvass also revealed sympathy for management. Nearly half the respondents (47%) said they believe unions “create tension in the workplace and make it harder to do business.”

More Perfect Union said the research is the first gauge of how the public feels about the unionization effort, which has been underway since last August.

It was released as the group behind the organization drive, Workers United, is accusing Starbucks of purposely dragging its feet to impede union votes at three stores in Buffalo, N.Y., and one in Mesa, Ariz. The group says Starbucks challenged the untallied results of votes within those stores as part of a strategy to bust the union.

Starbucks has acknowledged that it’d prefer not to have employees form a union, but maintains it is not engaging in illegal or unethical behavior.

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