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Astoria Starbucks Workers Vote to Form Union, First in Queens to Unionize

Workers at the Starbucks location at 30-18 Astoria Blvd. have voted to unionize (Photo: Google Maps)

June 8, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

A Starbucks in Astoria has voted to unionize, making it the first Starbucks in Queens to do so.

Employees at the 30-18 Astoria Blvd. store voted 11-0 in favor of unionizing, workers at the store announced via Twitter Monday.

The workers tweeted that they had voted to join Starbucks Workers United (SWU), a group that is part of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The SEIU has around 2 million members.

“We’re officially represented by Worker’s United! First in Queens! Completely Unanimous!!” a tweet by the group reads.

The group also tweeted that three ballots were not delivered to be tallied and at least one was lost in the mail. It is unclear if any workers abstained from voting.

The Astoria location is part of a wave of Starbucks stores across the country to unionize, with workers in around 135 locations voting to do so, according to SWU. The first Starbucks location to unionize was in Buffalo, NY, in December.

The vote comes nearly three months after the workers at the Astoria Starbucks store sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announcing their intention to form a union and their legal right to do so.

In the letter, the employees complained about facing tougher working conditions throughout the pandemic.

The employees said they have had to work irregular hours and have taken on increased responsibilities under questionable health and safety protocols.

The group said in the letter that they have not been properly compensated for the changes to their working conditions and are living pay check to pay check – all while the company has been generating record revenue. Starbucks’ net revenues were up 31 percent to a record $8.1billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the company’s financial results.

In response to Monday’s announcement, Starbucks released a brief statement to the Queens Post saying it was open to engaging with the group.

“As we have said throughout, we will respect the process and will bargain in good faith guided by our principles…,” the statement reads.

“We hope that the union does the same.”

The Astoria employees had the backing of local elected officials in their campaign to unionize. State Senator Mike Gianaris, Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Carolyn Maloney, Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani and Council Member Tiffany Cabán are among the legislators who publicly supported their efforts.

Gianaris said Monday that he was happy to learn about the outcome of the vote.

“Congratulations to the Astoria Boulevard Starbucks workers on exercising their right to organize and join a union,” Gianaris said.

“Organized labor is the foundation for a strong working class, which we need now more than ever. Here’s hoping their example shines a light for others to follow!”

State Sen. Mike Gianaris with staff at the Astoria Starbucks on March 18, 2022 (Photo: State Sen. Mike Gianaris via Flickr)

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Jorge Colon

Good for them, now let’s just hope that this Starbucks remains profitable. It would be unreasonable for these 11 employees to expect that other nearby locations to financially carry them. Starbucks routinely closes unprofitable sites while opening new ones at neighboring locations. Shops with better lease agreements, higher traffic, and/or larger labor pools frequently replace lesser performing stores.


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