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Tumwater Starbucks workers become second Thurston site to petition to unionize

UPDATED: Wed., April 6, 2022

A Starbucks is shown in south Seattle on Oct. 27, 2020. Workers at the Capitol Hill location voted on Tuesday to form a union.  (Associated Press )
A Starbucks is shown in south Seattle on Oct. 27, 2020. Workers at the Capitol Hill location voted on Tuesday to form a union. (Associated Press )
By Ty Vinson Olympian

TUMWATER – Just a week after workers at the Cooper Point Village Starbucks in Olympia went on strike for a day to protest of what they saw as union-busting tactics displayed by management, a second store has joined the fight for workers’ rights.

More than 20 employees at the Starbucks at 5300 Capitol Blvd. SE in Tumwater have signed union interest cards, citing worker exploitation in a letter sent to President and CEO Kevin Johnson on March 28.

In the letter, which was posted on the Starbucks Workers United Twitter page, workers said they want Starbucks to be a place where workers have a voice, can work with management to create a better environment, and feel valued and proud to work for the company.

Shift supervisor Dylan Lux has been working for the company since 2019 and has been at the Tumwater location since August. She said since employees petitioned to unionize, things have been quiet. The only thing that’s changed is a notice of unionization on the back house refrigerator posted by the district manager, she said.

“It’s almost like an elephant in the room,” she told the Olympian. “Nobody really talks about it.”

Lux said the purpose of this location petitioning is about making the workplace democratic. She said she and other employees feel they don’t have a say in the workplace, and whatever management says, they do.

She said upper management has cut hours and shifts, putting extra work on fewer employees. Store managers aren’t given the ability to schedule in more people or give others longer shifts. She said she hasn’t been given much vacation time despite her tenure and had to use vacation days to recover from a medical procedure.

“At one point, they started to fix some stuff and then stopped,” she told the Olympian. “But without the union, they can give us benefits but just as easily take them away. There’s a big conceptual issue there.”

She said employees also are fighting for better pay due to the rising cost of living. On top of this is the stress of getting harassed by customers, which Lux said management does little about.

“We’re expected to deal with it and keep having to see these people who have threatened and berated us,” Lux said.

A corporate spokesperson for Starbucks could not be reached for comment as of April 5.

Lux said the employees are trying to coordinate efforts regionally to put pressure on the company to bargain in good faith. She said she works with many amazing people and that they’re fighting to create an environment that isn’t just profit focused. From here, they’re just waiting for an official vote.

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