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Starbucks employees in Bloomington Eastside receive IGWC-UE help in their unionization efforts

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Bloomington, Indiana – To garner support for their recently announced unionization efforts, workers at the Bloomington Eastside Starbucks are traveling to other Starbucks stores throughout the city. Stefanie Sharp, a barista on Bloomington’s Eastside, claims that staff members have visited every Starbucks location in Bloomington that is not a franchise.

In a tweet on Monday, the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition United Electrical Workers also endorsed the unionization efforts of Bloomington Eastside Starbucks.

“Our union rep was talking about how, especially in college towns, once the flame is lit it just bursts,” Sharp said. “We’re kind of excited to move the campaign on to other stores, but we still have to win our election first.”

The National Labor Relations Board received a petition from employees at the Bloomington Eastside Starbucks, which is located at Third Street and 46 Bypass, to join Starbucks Workers United. More than 315 U.S. Starbucks Partners from all around the nation have banded together to form Starbucks Workers United. According to a news release from Starbucks Workers United, workers are requesting better working conditions, fair pay, and more dependable scheduling inside the business. According to the news release, workers are requesting that their union be recognized as the collective bargaining agent for all permanent hourly full-time and part-time employees in the store, with the exception of store managers and assistant store managers as defined by the NLRB.

Sharp stated that to her knowledge, Starbucks corporate executives have not yet sent an official statement to the retail staff. She did, however, mention that the store manager, who is not a union member, intends to meet with every shift supervisor.

Sharp claimed that in addition to having insufficient workers, the Eastside Starbucks branch went from May 10 to June 5 without a store manager. She claimed that all managerial responsibilities fell to the assistant store manager.

Employees at the Eastside Starbucks said that the store’s Pride flag was pulled down at the start of June, which is known as LGBTQ Pride month, in a letter written to Starbucks CEO Laxman Narashimhan on Monday. Sharp claimed that the Pride Flag was taken down on the first day of the new store manager’s tenure, which began on June 5.

Sharp claims that even though the manager indicated she didn’t morally support removing the flag from a door facing the main entrance, she claimed that the decision came from leadership above her. Sharp claimed that as soon as the flag was pulled down, staff members walked to the back of the business, rendering it inaccessible for about an hour.

Sharp stated that one of the store employees was allowed to make a new Pride display at the store after workers left their jobs in protest of the business management taking down the flag.

In response to these claims, a Starbucks representative said that the company had not banned Pride decorations and that its guidelines for decorations in locations had not changed. In accordance with Starbucks’ operating requirements, appearance standards, and dress code policies, partners are encouraged to develop methods to celebrate Pride and other heritage months in all U.S. company-owned stores.

“We unwaveringly support the LGBTQIA2+ community,” the spokesperson said in the statement. “We remain deeply concerned by false information being spread about our inclusive environments, our company culture, and the benefits we offer our partners.”

All partner complaints about the store’s pride displays, according to the representative, have been “routed for leadership review and to be addressed.” The representative also addressed claims that employee hours were being reduced.

“Partner work schedules are published on a regular, rolling basis three weeks in advance and are built based on recorded partner availability and the unique operational needs of each store,” the statement said. “To provide additional schedule flexibility for our partners, we also provide partners the ability to view and pick up additional shifts at their home store and other stores within their district.”

The third corporate-owned Starbucks to unionize in Indiana is the one on Bloomington’s Eastside. Employees at a site in Clarksville unionized in June 2022, and employees at the LaPorte and Silhavy store in Valparaiso, Indiana, unionized in February.

“I get the sense that we’re ready for the fight,” Sharp said. “That no matter what happens, we’re going to have each other’s backs, because that’s what filing for a union is at the end of the day.”

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