Tom Bosserman, left to right, Cornelius Ersoz and Nick Watkin on Monday morning during a “sip in” at Starbucks for union solidarity in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Tom Bosserman, left to right, Cornelius Ersoz and Nick Watkin on Monday morning during a “sip in” at Starbucks for union solidarity in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

‘Solidarity is brewing’: Starbucks sip-ins mark tide of unionization

On Monday, elected officials and others spilled into an Everett Starbucks to support workers who voted to form a union.

EVERETT — Carpenters secured a $10 raise. Baristas and cell phone salespeople won opportunities to bargain. Nurses and teachers had a platform to talk about inequities and safety issues at work.

There is, ostensibly, plenty for the local working class to celebrate this year.

Here in Snohomish County, historic Labor Day celebrations featured potato sack races and swimming at Silver Lake. Others included trips to Seattle for a picnic at Woodland Park, or to Mount Baker for skiing and tobogganing complete with live music from a Granite Falls band.

Things look a little different in 2022. But the energy remains the same, more or less.

On Monday, local elected officials, union representatives, laborers and supporters spilled into the Starbucks at 37th Street and Broadway in Everett.

Many ordered clear plastic cups of ice water marked “union strong” by a white ticket on the side. At one table, people made handheld signs.

“Everett < 3 Union Baristas,” one read.

“Solidarity is brewing,” another promised.

It was a solidarity “sip-in” to show support for Starbucks union workers. The store on 37th voted 13-1 to form a union earlier this year.

Similar sip-ins were slated for the holiday weekend at over 100 Starbucks locations across the United States They’re modeled after sit-ins, where patrons come in, order cheap drinks or water and leave large tips. The sip-ins are aimed at building conversation and community.

Starbucks workers’ union drive kicked off late last summer at Starbucks stores in Buffalo, New York. Since then, workers at 227 stores have won their union elections, according to Law360’s Starbucks union tracker.

Everett City Councilmember Mary Fosse walked through the store’s front door adorning a red bandana and tinted aviator sunglasses. She left a $5 dollar tip for the baristas on her coffee order.

“Even historically speaking, Everett is a union town,” John Traynor, the political director for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 191.

“To get more context behind the meaning of Labor Day is to go back 100 years,” former Daily Herald editor Eric Stevick wrote in 2017.

It was a time when local lumber mill workers were fighting for an eight-hour work day. Federal child labor laws were recently enacted.

Signs decorate a windshield Monday morning during a “sip in” at Starbucks for union solidarity in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Signs decorate a windshield Monday morning during a “sip in” at Starbucks for union solidarity in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Ten months before Labor Day 1917, seven people, including five members of the Industrial Workers of the World union, were shot and killed at the Everett waterfront. A half-dozen others aboard the Steam Boat Verona disappeared in Port Gardner that afternoon, never returning to pick up the union cards they’d left at the IWW Hall in Seattle that morning.

The confrontation, known today as the Everett Massacre, has been described as the bloodiest battle in Pacific Northwest labor history.

The Snohomish County chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America helped organize Monday’s sip-in.

Earlier this week, The Seattle Times reported workers in Washington state are unionizing “at the highest rate in years.” That movement is mostly led by Starbucks baristas, according to the Times.

Nurses and healthcare workers at Everett-based Providence hospitals are pleading for their company’s leaders to tackle staffing shortages. Last month, they described patients waiting in hallways for care; not having enough nurses on a floor to respond to a heart attack; and feeling plagued by work-related worries when they go home.

Union workers have the power to “transform the lives of both the people we serve and the communities in which we live,” said Justin Fox-Bailey president of the Snohomish teachers union. “It isn’t just about making sure that you can afford your rent or your mortgage or your food or your health care.”

Union workers in Snohomish County have shown it’s also about having the ability to speak up about injustices, Fox-Bailey said.

While Labor Day looks a little different now than it may have a century ago, it’s important to be aware of the struggles that continue today, he said.

“The people doing the work,” Fox-Bailey said, “the people who are who are making our coffee and picking our fruit and writing our articles, they are not seeing the benefits of their work (in) the same way as those people who own the business.”

Reporting from Herald Writer Jacqueline Allison and The Daily Herald archives was included in this story.

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192;; Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

A bloodied Donald Trump is surrounded by Secret Service agents at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa, on Saturday, July, 13, 2024. The former president was rushed off stage at rally after sounds like shots; the former president was escorted into his motorcade at his rally in Butler, Pa., a rural town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Trump rally shooting investigated as assassination attempt

President Joe Biden gave a brief televised statement, condemning the violence as “sick.”

Firefighters and EMTs with Sky Valley Fire tour Eagle Falls while on an observational trip on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, near Index, Washington. (Jordan Hansen / The Herald)
Beautiful but deadly: Drownings common at Eagle Falls, other local waters

Locals and firefighters are sounding the alarm as Eagle Falls and the Granite Falls Fish Ladder have claimed five lives this year.

A view of the south eastern area of the Lake Stevens that includes lakeshore and UGA that is a part of the city's annexation area on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens fight to take over sewer district could end soon

The city and sewer district have been locked in a yearslong dispute. A judge could put an end to the stalemate this month.

Lynnwood appoints new council member after abrupt resignation

Derica Escamilla will take the seat vacated by Shirley Sutton in May, who claimed the city had a “total lack of leadership.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.