ashland.news
April 14, 2024

Ashland Starbucks workers petition to unionize

The Ashland Starbucks store at the corner of Walker Avenue and Ashland Street as captured by Google Street Drive in May 2021. Map data ©2023 Google
March 9, 2023

Rally planned at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Walker Avenue and Ashland Street location

By Kevin Opsahl, Rogue Valley Times

Ashland’s only stand-alone Starbucks intends to be the first of the coffee chain’s stores to unionize in Southern Oregon.

Workers at the coffee house, at 512 Walker Ave., filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, the same day they issued a letter to Starbucks Interim CEO Howard Schultz informing him of a list of grievances, including cut hours, lack of staff and training, fear of calling in sick — even “arbitrary” performance reviews and demotions.

“We deserve to be treated with respect and dignity as all of our partners are entitled to in the workplace. That is why we are unionizing,” the baristas, including Naia Duggan, wrote in the letter.

The baristas added that they’re petitioning to unionize “in solidarity” with other Starbucks employees nationwide who have done the same. Three-hundred Starbucks stores and more than 7,000 baristas have joined unions, according to a news release announcing the Ashland location’s petition.

“We will not be silent and scared anymore. We are standing on the backs of hundreds of baristas that came before us fighting for our future,” Duggan said in the news release.

The release accused Starbucks of being a “union-busting” company, claiming it fired nearly 200 union leaders across the country and closed union-organized stores.

The Ashland workers’ announcement came several days after New York-based NLRB Administrative Law Judge Michael Rosas ordered Starbucks to rehire numerous employees who were fired for trying to form a union, reopen a store that was closed for the same reason and enter labor union negotiations with Starbucks workers.

The judge also said Starbucks must post a 13-page notice listing its labor violations in all U.S. stores and electronically distribute the notice to all U.S. employees. 

Starbucks called the ruling “inappropriate,” but union organizers called the Rosas’ ruling “historic,” adding that they would “not rest” until all Starbucks workers could unionize.

According to Starbucks’ website, the company has three locations in Ashland, including the Safeway on Siskiyou Boulevard and the Albertsons on Ashland Street. Starbucks has 13 locations in and around Medford, either as stand-alone stores or located inside other businesses. Four locations are listed in Grants Pass and the surrounding area.

Starbucks Workers United will rally at the store at the corner of Ashland Street and Walker Avenue at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9, according to a Facebook post on the Southern Oregon Jobs With Justice Facebook page.

This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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