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Richmond Starbucks

Workers at the Willow Lawn Starbucks in Richmond, Virginia show their support for unionization. The store's employees voted 19-0 to form a union on April 19, 2022. (Photo: @_devinonearth/Twitter)

'Stunning Clean Sweep' as Starbucks Workers Win 5 Straight Union Votes in Virginia

"In an industry that a lot of people, I think, write off and say can't be organized, Starbucks baristas have shown that you can organize these places and you can win," said one barista.

Brett Wilkins

The nationwide wave of labor organizing by Starbucks workers continued to bear fruit Tuesday as employees at five of the coffee chain's Richmond, Virginia stores overwhelmingly voted to unionize.

"Within 48 hours we had 70% of the store signed up for union cards."

According to More Perfect Union, the votes at the five Richmond Starbucks were 17-1, 22-3, 11-2, 13-8, and 19-0. The stores are the company's first in Virginia to unionize; workers at a Springfield location narrowly rejected forming a union last week.

"The movement of workers demanding dignity on the job wins again," tweeted U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "Congratulations to Starbucks workers in Richmond on your vote to unionize! I will see you Sunday!"

Sanders is scheduled to appear Sunday at Unity Fest, a free event "to support and celebrate the organizing efforts of Starbucks workers locally and across the country."

Starbucks Workers United, the group coordinating the nationwide organizing effort, now boasts a record of 21 unionizations in 23 attempts.

Inspired by the historic unionization of Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York late last year, the global coffee chain's Richmond employees began their own organizing journey in February.

"It really came together fast for our store," said Tyler Hofmann, a barista at the North Boulevard Starbucks. "My store manager went on vacation, and I was like, this is the time, we have an opportunity to organize."

"My store was super supportive," he added, "and within 48 hours we had 70% of the store signed up for union cards."

Starbucks workers have defied what they say is a concerted union-busting campaign by the Seattle-based company. Last week, a group of 24 of the coffee giant's employees urged the U.S. House of Representatives' labor committee to compel billionaire Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to testify about what they called an incessant and unlawful effort to thwart the nationwide unionization drive.

Last week, Bloomberg reported prosecutors at the National Labor Relations Board plan to formally accuse Starbucks of illegally firing a group of activists seeking to unionize their Memphis, Tennessee store.

Richmond Starbucks workers said the company utilized union-busting tactics as they sought to organize, including slashing employee hours.

"It's reached to a point where a lot of us have been, you know, discussing finding other jobs and stuff to be able to make ends meet," barista Iman Djehiche told More Perfect Union. "That's been something we've been experiencing since we got our ballot date."

Barista Cory Johnson said the union drive has boosted solidarity among his co-workers.

"In an industry that a lot of people, I think, write off and say can't be organized, Starbucks baristas have shown that you can organize these places and you can win," he said. "It just takes one victory to kind of spark a movement. And even someone like Howard Schultz isn't too big to organize against."

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