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Workers at 2 Rochester Starbucks stores call for a union vote

Gary Bonadonna Jr. of Workers United and Starbucks workers
Randy Gorbman/WXXI News
Gary Bonadonna Jr., manager of Workers United Upstate NY is joined by several Starbucks workers from Rochester and Buffalo to talk about unionization efforts.

Workers at two Starbucks stores in Rochester are now among those interested in joining a union.

The announcement on Monday came at the headquarters for Workers United, the same union that recently helped workers with their organizing efforts in Buffalo and Ithaca.

The two Rochester stores where workers are interested in voting on having a union are the one on Mount Hope Avenue, and the new Starbucks in Brighton at Monroe Ave. and Clover St.

Michaela Wagstaff works at the Brighton store, and she said she is heartened by the additional opportunities at Starbucks that unionization at other stores has opened up for her.

“Such as a chance to open the door to accountability, transparency and health and safety,” said Wagstaff. “Our efforts today leave us excited and hopeful for a democratic state in our terms of employment. I look forward to working with Starbucks, partner to partner, shoulder to shoulder.”

Glenn T. Brown II, who works at the Mt. Hope Avenue store, said that the workers are “energized by the endless possibilities of the prospects of unionization.” Brown said that “every voice should be heard to increase transparency and the fundamental right of a living wage.”

A spokesperson for Starbucks released a statement saying that the company is “listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country.” Starbucks said that its success is “built on how we partner together.”

Among the issues the Starbucks workers say they want to bring to management as they try to unionize are health and safety protocols during the pandemic and transparency over salary changes.

A spokesperson for Starbucks says the company meets or exceeds COVID-19 protocols and also said respects the rights of employees to organize.

The spokesperson also said that wages have been bumped up in recent months to rates ranging from $15 to $23 per hour at stores across the country.

Besides the two Rochester stores where unionization efforts were announced Monday, Gary Bonadonna Jr., the manager at Workers United Upstate NY said that employees at three more Buffalo stores are interested in joining a union.

And he says workers at three Ithaca stores are also in the process of filing with the National Labor Relations Board in an effort to allow employees to vote on a union. Bonadonna said that 16 additional Starbucks stores across the country announced efforts on Monday to organize.

NPR reported that employees at 54 stores in 19 states are pursuing union elections.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.