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Business & Economy

Over half of the workers at a downtown Columbus Starbucks join nationwide effort to unionize

Starbucks located at 88 East Broad Street.
Courtesy of Ben Baldwin
Starbucks located at 88 East Broad Street.

Employees at a downtown Columbus Starbucks joined a nationwide effort Monday to demand union recognition. It’s the first location in the area to do so.

More than half of “partners,” or hourly workers at the East Broad Street café signed union authorization cards early Monday morning. Workers also signed a letter and emailed it to Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz.

The pay averages about $14 an hour. That’s above the $12 national average, but below union stores. Barista Ben Baldwin said low wages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic pushed workers to join the effort.

“I think it’s really outlandish that the company is saying we’re essential workers and yet, we’re not getting a wage that’s consummate with that,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin said Starbucks gave employees hazard pay of $3 extra dollars an hour at the start of the pandemic.

“For the first time in many baristas’ lives, they were able to live comfortably and not living paycheck to paycheck," he said. "And that was taken away from us without any explanation. So that hurt.”

Workers also want a larger say in work place decisions, like with health and safety protocols

The Starbucks United effort includes over 150 locations, including those in Cleveland.

Business & Economy starbucksLabor Union
Tyler Thompson was a reporter and on-air host for 89.7 NPR News. Thompson, originally from northeast Ohio, has spent the last three years working as a Morning Edition host and reporter at NPR member station KDLG Public Radio and reporter at the Bristol Bay Times Newspaper in Dillingham, Alaska.