Starbucks workers at a store in Ellicott City voted to unionize, becoming the coffee chain’s seventh location in Maryland to organize.
Workers at the store, located on U.S. Route 40 near North Chatham Road, won their election in a vote of 12-7, according to a press release from Starbucks Workers United, joining a wave of more than 300 Starbucks stores nationwide that have successfully unionized since December 2021.
“Winning finally gives us a voice in what happens to our day to day at Starbucks,” said Caitlyn Fleck, barista and organizer at the Ellicott City store, in a statement.
Workers at the store began having conversations about unionizing in April, barista Gordon Mutch told The Banner, and went public with their efforts in early June. Shift supervisors and baristas cast their votes on Thursday, he said.
Next, Mutch said, workers will need to bargain and get a contract with Starbucks, an effort he expects the company will try to delay — it’s something Starbucks has been accused of doing at other locations. The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint in April alleging the company failed to bargain at 144 unionized stores.
“So it’s not the beginning, and there’s still more to come, but it’s going well,” he said.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Workers at the Ellicott City store want wage increases. For some, the current pay makes it hard to get by, especially if you’re “trying to live a decent quality of life,” Mutch said. Workers also want more paid vacation time and sick days, which would mean a better sense of security “to be able to find time to relax from the very stressful hustle and bustle of super high-volume service workplaces,” he said.
Workers also want more stable hours and benefits that are no longer tied to the number of hours worked per week. They want to be able to limit the amount of mobile orders coming in, too, among other demands.
“We’re ready to go to the bargaining table,” Mutch said. “We know what our working life is like, we know what would help us, what would really help the baristas at the store, and help us give the best service to customers,” he said.
For Mutch personally, unionizing is also about standing in solidarity with the efforts of other employees across the country. After learning about their work, Mutch felt he needed to get involved to support them.
“We can’t sit idly by when we know what’s up,” he said.