Jacob Fullerton, Starbucks store supervisor in Everett, is pushing to unionize after recent successes elsewhere across the country. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Jacob Fullerton, Starbucks store supervisor in Everett, is pushing to unionize after recent successes elsewhere across the country. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Workers at an Everett Starbucks seek a unionization vote

The effort is the first at a Starbucks in Snohomish County. But it’s one of dozens across the country.

EVERETT — Starbucks workers at Broadway and 37th Street in Everett want to form a union, joining a growing wave of baristas across the country pushing to unionize.

The effort is the first at a Starbucks in Snohomish County. The Everett store filed for union election Monday — along with 15 other stores nationwide, according to a tweet from SB Workers United.

Jacob Fullerton, a supervisor at the Everett Starbucks, said about 70% of the store’s 29 employees signed cards in support of unionization, well above the 30% threshold required by the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election.

Forming a union would allow employees to bargain with management over pay, hours and working conditions.

As of this week, employees at 54 Starbucks stores in 19 states had filed for union election, NPR reported. Several Seattle stores had previously announced plans to unionize.

The movement started last fall with workers at a store in Buffalo, New York. The store formed the first Starbucks union in the nation in December, sparking a wave of similar efforts.

In their Monday letter, Everett employees informed Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson of their intent to unionize.

“We, as a store, want what the majority of baristas within your company want: to meet on a level playing field with our leadership, to have a say in our workplace culture and daily operations, and not to have to contort ourselves into pretzels to satisfy the whims of a corporate entity,” the employees wrote.

Employees will vote on whether to join the SB Workers United union, which represents the Buffalo Starbucks workers.

Starbucks did not directly respond to a question from The Daily Herald about whether the company opposed the Everett store’s move to unionize. However, the Seattle-based coffee chain has opposed other stores’ unionization efforts.

“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in an email. “Our position hasn’t changed: Starbucks success — past, present, and future — is built on how we partner together, always with Our Mission and Values at our core.”

In a December letter to Starbucks employees, following the Buffalo union vote, Rossann Williams, executive vice president at Starbucks, expressed the company’s opposition to unionization.

“From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we do not want a union between us as partners, and that conviction has not changed,” she wrote. “However, we have also said that we respect the legal process. This means we will bargain in good faith with the union.”

In their Monday letter, the Everett Starbucks workers wrote they face “frequent and disruptive equipment failures, an at-will instead of for-cause employment contracts, and low wages for new, established and tenured partners.”

The Everett store’s manager is “empathetic, hard-working and exemplary,” but workers cannot be sure future leadership will be the same, they wrote.

If unionization efforts succeed, Fullerton said, workers would push for higher pay, better benefits and stronger workplace safety measures.

Everett baristas have been subjected to violent situations and sexual harassment from the public, Fullerton said. He added the company has also barred workers from enforcing the state’s COVID-19 mask mandate.

Fullerton, 28, started working at the Everett Starbucks in May 2021 to pay for school. He was motivated to form a union to support both new and long-term employees.

“A lot of the workforce is 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds, they are so smart and deserve so much,” he said. “And there are also people who are older and don’t get taken care of as well as they should.”

Fullerton anticipates the Everett store’s union election will happen in four to six weeks.

He expects “interference” from the company, such as meetings and texts, to discourage union efforts. Starbucks workers at other stores across the country have reported similar tactics.

Fullerton said he is preparing baristas for what to expect in the coming weeks.

“I think it’s a very clear growing movement,” he said, “and it’s kind of bonkers that (Starbucks) is fighting so hard against this given that they’re such a progressive company.”

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; jacqueline.allison@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @jacq_allison.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Striking Starbucks employees talk to a woman who wanted to use the drive-thru but was turned away due to the strike on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, on Broadway in Everett, Washington. Workers at the 37th and Broadway store spent their morning picketing because a fellow employee had been fired the previous day in what the workers believe is an act of union busting. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett Starbucks workers go on strike after employee fired

The employee and her fellow union members claim she was fired for supporting the union. Starbucks denies it.

X
Property values soar 32% in Snohomish County due to hot housing market

Assessed values are up all across the county since last year. The impact on tax bills won’t be known for a few months.

Everett
Port of Everett hosting annual open house after pandemic hiatus

Also, Rustic Cork Wine Bar plans to open a second shop at Fisherman’s Harbor — the latest addition to the port’s “wine walk.”

Holly Burkett-Pohland, the owner of Burkett’s Home & Gift, outside of her new store front on Friday, June 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Everett gift store debuts in former J. Matheson space

For years, Holly Burkett-Pohland wanted to expand a business founded by her mother in 1978.

A Kenmore Air Cessna 208 Caravan. (Kenmore Air) 20220613
Kenmore Air to start daily flights from Paine Field to San Juans

Service begins July 14. Flights to Friday Harbor and Orcas Island airports take about 25 minutes.

Seattle Space Needle sues coffee chain over use of logo

The logo for Local Coffee Spot features a mug of hot coffee whose rising steam bears striking resemblance to the iconic tower.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Foes of state’s capital gains tax drop plans for initiative

I-1929 sponsors say they are confident a lawsuit challenging the legality of the tax will be successful.

Arlington
Smoother sailing: Arlington airport gets grant to fix runway

A $2.3 million federal grant will pave the way for a project to resurface the airfield’s main runway.

Workers build the first all electric plane, the Eviation Alice, on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  The plane is designed for regional travel and to carry nine passengers. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Eviation moves tests of electric passenger plane to Moses Lake

The Arlington company said a bigger runway and flatter terrain are better suited to early testing of the commuter aircraft.

An artist's rendering of the new Funko warehouse in Buckeye, Arizona. (Funko) 20220407
Funko warehouse layoffs begin this week in Everett, Puyallup

The layoffs, announced in April, are part of a plan to move distribution operations to Arizona.

Rendering of the front entrance of Spruce Elementary School in Lynnwood. (Edmonds School District)
Police: Edmonds schools sent $2.7 million check to fraudster

Police say the fraudster posed as a contractor for a new elementary school. A bank caught it at the last second.

Looking north, an aerial view of Paine Field in Everett. (Paine Field / Snohomish County) 20220605
Paine Field development plan envisions an expanded terminal

Once Sea-Tac Airport reaches capacity, the Everett airport is on the short list to absorb unmet demand by passengers.