UO Student Workers host solidarity rally for Starbucks Workers

On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, around 40 people showed up for a Starbucks workers solidarity rally hosted by UO Student Workers. Several workers from the EMU Starbucks spoke along with reps from SEIU 503, GTFF, and United Academics. UO Student Workers also shared testimony they collected from student workers that are employed by the university.

As of March 1, workers at eight different stores in Eugene have petitioned for a union, accounting for all of the stores in the city. The Starbucks kiosks, like those in Albertson’s and Safeway, are owned by the stores who they reside in. The workers are employed by the stores and many of the workers are already a part of a union such as UFCW.

The Starbucks workers that spoke at the rally were all from the EMU Starbucks that is right above where the rally took place. Workers at the store filed for a union election on Feb. 4. Starbucks has recently been remodeling the EMU location, workers say that they have been asking for one for several years because of safety issues and failing equipment. The company only began remodeling after workers filed for a union election.

Workers also say that pay is an issue. Alexia Müller says she had been working at the store for about 2 ¾ years and she found out a one year partner had been making nearly a dollar more than her.

“I called 12 Different people in Starbucks corporate for a whole month, and finally got my pay raise. But it should not take that it shouldn’t take talking to 12 different people and struggling to get callbacks and leaving tons and tons of voicemails just to get the pay that you deserve. And I still don’t even make as much as I feel I should for the work that I do,” she said.

Avinash Tiwari, an English Instructor and president of United Academics of the University of Oregon spoke about the benefits of being in a union. Tiwari says he joined his union because he knows that the corporation will always have more power but the collective power a union gives workers a shot at changing the dynamic. Providing and protecting rights, benefits, and workers values.

“Our soon to be cousins here on campus at Starbucks deserve a shot at that kind of power, the collective power of workers standing together, who will not be ignored, who will not go gently and who deserves so much more than what their corporations deemed to be enough to you workers looking at your collective future out there,” he said

The workers at the EMU Starbucks join workers at over a hundred Starbucks stores across. Since December, unionizing workers have gone six for seven in their elections. The National Labor Relations Board approved votes in favor of the unionizing workers at three shops in Buffalo, NY on Wednesday.

“The struggle for union at Starbucks, like the struggle for a union at Amazon and many other places, is historic and historically important. And all of us that are not in those directly employed in those campaigns in those work, places or in those campaigns, need to be prepared to put our money where our mouth is because these campaigns have to succeed and we can help them do that,” Michael Marchman, staff organizer for GTFF said.

UO Student Workers sent out a survey to a get a picture of working conditions across workplaces by students earlier this year, and members of the group read the anonymous.

“A lot of the jobs here are in food service, and there’s no implementation for often the biggest source of income, which is tipping. Students are instead placed in a high stress job, can feel pressure to cover massive shifts, make little money and are already dealing with the workload of school,” One student worker said anonymously through the survey.

David Lefevre of UOYDSA provided the last speech for the rally, “By providing all the labor to keep these institutions functioning, workers have the power to withhold this labor and bring any institution to its knees.”

This week Starbucks Workers United reported that Starbucks is slashing worker’s hours nationally. ESSN expected the company to do that as a union busting tactic, and that is one of the reasons they set up a GoFundMe in January to support workers in Eugene.