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Vote count Friday could make Grand Rapids Starbucks first union store in Michigan

Burton Starbucks filed to unionize.png
Posted at 6:10 AM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 06:12:39-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Some Starbucks workers in Grand Rapids could be unionized by Friday afternoon - becoming the first unionized Starbucks in the state of Michigan.

The National Labor Relations Board will count votes at 2 p.m. on Zoom for the Burton Street location.

The Burton Street store is one of more than 200 Starbucks stores nationwide that have moved toward forming a union in recent months, but they are the first in the state of Michigan to do this.

This comes after the store's baristas stood together on March 7 to announce their path towards unionization.

In a letter to Kevin Johnson, the former Starbucks CEO, workers cited unsafe working conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic including “extreme staffing shortages” and insufficient pay.

When the Burton Street workers first came together to unionize, an overwhelming majority of them signed union authorization cards.

Workers United organizer, Matthew Kain says he expects a landslide victory Friday.

Workers and organizers say Friday's ballot count will be a major step towards a better working environment.

"I think once I realized that unionizing could solve a lot of our issues and frustrations, it was like, work can be a fun place again," said Malena Phanle, filing to create a union at Grand Rapids Starbucks. "If enough people that you work with agree with you and want to see something fixed or addressed, you can fix that."

Starbucks released a statement to FOX 17 after workers sent a letter to corporate explaining why they believe a union would make the store better. Starbucks responded, saying:

“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores, as we always do across the country. From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed.”

Despite corporate's response, it really all comes down to the live ballot count Friday afternoon.

To watch to ballot count live, click here.