Starbucks union creates $1M fund to help striking workers

People hold signs while protesting in front of Starbucks on April 14, 2022 in New York City. Activists gathered to protest Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz anti-unionization efforts and demand the reinstatement of workers fired for trying to unionize.
Photo credit Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
By , Audacy

As the fight to unionize one of the largest coffee chains in the country continues, the union backing the organizing efforts has created a $1 million fund to support those losing money by striking.

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Starbucks baristas across the country have begun calling for unionization of stores nationwide, and now the financial backing is being seen as added firepower to their cause.

Workers have walked out across the country in stores in Boston, South Carolina, and more, claiming they have faced anti-union retaliation, according to CNBC.

As of last week, there have been 100 Starbucks locations that have voted to unionize under the Service Employees International Union affiliate, Workers United, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

Workers United is establishing the strike fund, and it could help strikes last longer, covering the funds workers would lose while fighting for unionization.

Richard Minter, the international organizing director for Workers United, shared with CNBC that when the fund is established, it will help keep the fire burning in their cause.

"This strike fund will allow all workers to take the type of collective action necessary as they fight for a fair contract," Minter said.

Service Employees International Union has roughly 2 million members and is set to help those wanting to unionize fight back against the billion-dollar coffee chain.

Workers United has already filed 175 complaints against the company for its business practices that the organization says are unfair. On top of that, the labor board has issued nine complaints of its own.

At the College Ave. location near Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, workers went on a one-day strike in April for what Workers United says were unsafe working conditions that included "a waste emergency caused by the overflowing grease trap."

This was the reason Starbucks gave when it later closed the location, but a former employee from the store, Benjamin South, shared with NPR in a statement that the trap wasn't the reason.

"This is clearly retaliation for our small grasps at dignity as workers," South said, "but our strike showed them what power we have."

Not every chain wants to unionize, with 14 locations voting against the action. Still, 88% of the Starbucks locations that have voted are in support of unionizing. There are still 120 stores in the process of or waiting to vote.

At the front of the push to unionize, Starbucks continues to try and fight back, announcing it would increase wages for tenured workers and double training for new employees. However, it is not planning on offering the enhanced benefits that workers are calling for.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images