According to a letter circulating online, the workers at the Fresno Starbucks at Marks and Herndon avenues have announced an intent to unionize. Photo by Frank Lopez

published on April 22, 2022 - 12:33 PM
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The team at a Fresno Starbucks has announced its intention to unionize, joining a wave of other corporate stores of the international coffee company.

In a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz posted on the SBWorkersUnited Twitter account Thursday evening, crewmembers of the Starbucks at 7010 N. Marks Ave. in the Herndon Business Park announced the news.

They laid out the challenges they face on the job, including assaults by customers, product and staffing shortages as well as “witnessing a graphic and traumatic mauling in our parking lot.”

In November 2021, an argument between a pair of men resulted in a sword attack outside the store that left one in the hospital with an arm injury, reported KMPH Fox 26.

The letter is signed by “Benjamin Takemoto and the partners at 28904.” A LinkedIn profile for Takemoto states he has been a Starbucks assistant manager for eight years. A message left for Takemoto on a social media account was not returned Friday morning.

When reached in person for the start of his shift at the Starbucks Friday, Takemoto declined to comment while on the clock.

“We are not compensated fairly for the volume of work expected of us given the staffing the way that it is,” reads the letter. “We have repeatedly appealed with our management, and have been met with retaliation, discrimination, and a general disregard for our voices. This must change.”

The Twitter account SBWorkersUnited aggregates news about Starbucks labor activity in the U.S. It has about 61,000 followers.

In December 2021, a Buffalo, New York Starbucks location was the first of the coffee chain’s 8,000 corporate locations in the U.S. to unionize after an employee vote. According to labor movement news website, 238 Starbuck’s stores across the nation have filed for union elections or plan to unionize.

A worker involved with the unionization of the local Starbucks who wished to remain anonymous said in a phone interview Friday that employees were inspired to form a union after the Buffalo store election, with their own efforts starting in January.

The person said store employees want higher staffing levels and management that is “not retaliatory and not discriminatory,” both at the store management level and at the district management level.

Responsiveness from management at both levels is lacking, with the employee saying “they hear us, but there aren’t any changes enacted.”

“We would love to work together [with management] to get the support in the store to have a safe and fair work environment,” the employee said.

The Starbucks employee said the staff of 23, not counting the store manager, are also asking for higher wages and fair compensation for senior staff members.

Team members also have concerns for their own safety, saying no management was present on the day of the sword attack in November 2021. 

The next step, the employee said, is gaining representation from Starbucks Workers United.

He said there has been no response from Starbucks to the letter.

Workers United, the union representing workers at Starbucks’ flagship roastery in Seattle that formed a collective bargaining unit this week, told the Associated press that 26 Starbucks locations have unionized nationwide.

“As we have said throughout, we will respect the process and will bargain in good faith. We hope that the union does the same,” Reggie Borges, a spokesman for Starbucks, said in a statement to the Associated Press about the Seattle location — the second to form in Starbucks Seattle hometown.

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