AUSTIN (KXAN) — Employees at an Austin Starbucks location are unionizing, according to a letter posted to social media Monday.
The store can be found at West 24th and Nueces Streets in West Campus near the University of Texas at Austin. The workers, also known as partners, said one of the reasons they’re declaring a union petition is because the location is mostly run by students with certain needs.
“Our store, comprised mainly of UT Austin students, presents unique scheduling challenges,” the partners explained in the letter addressed to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson.
KXAN reached out to Starbucks for a response to the employees’ letter. A spokesperson for the company said Starbucks leaders respect their workers’ right to organize and “will bargain in good faith.”
You can read the full statement below.
We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores, as we always do across the country. Starbucks success—past, present, and future—is built on how we partner together, always with Our Mission and Values at our core. We’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. Rossann Williams, evp and president, North America, has also shared with our partners that we respect their right to organize and will bargain in good faith. She also noted in a letter sent to all partners in December that ‘the vote outcomes will not change our shared purpose or how we will show up for each other … We will keep listening, we will keep connecting and we will keep being in service of one another because that’s what we’ve always done and what it means to be partner.’Starbucks spokesperson
The rise of unions among Starbucks locations first began in December 2021, when partners at a store in Buffalo, New York voted to unionize, according to NPR. Now, as of Tuesday, 129 stores in 26 states have filed for union petitions, SBWorkersUnited said.
The Austin partners said in their letter at one point they “enjoyed some of the best benefits in any industry, and a company culture that made for a wonderful place to work.” However, the employees said over the past few years they’ve “experienced an erosion of that company culture” and a “fundamental erosion of trust.”
They’re fighting for a workplace that is centered on their needs and a wage that can accommodate Austin’s rising cost of living. In October 2021, the coffee company raised its minimum wage nationwide to $15 an hour, which is set to be enacted by this summer.
The letter is signed by six Austin partners as well as others wishing to stay anonymous at the moment.
Greg Casar, the Democratic candidate for Texas Congressional District 35 and a former Austin City Council member, commented on the workers’ plan to unionize, saying, “First San Antonio, now Austin. Texans are organizing, and I stand with the workers at @atx_sbwu! Solidarity forever.”
Starbucks is currently suspending business activity in Russia, CNBC reported. All locations there will temporarily close their doors. CNBC said the coffee chain has approximately 130 outlets in Russian and Ukraine.