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Santa Maria Starbucks union workers participate in "Strike with Pride"

starbucks union strike
Posted at 7:00 PM, Jun 26, 2023

Union workers at Starbucks stores across the country are participating in a strike.

They say the company has changed its policy over Pride Month decorations and they’re demanding that Starbucks negotiate a fair contract with union stores.

Union strikers at the Starbucks location off of McCoy and Broadway in Santa Maria protested what they say are unfair labor practices. As a result, the Starbucks location was closed to customers on Monday.

The Santa Maria location joined the Starbucks Workers United Organization on a 14-4 vote and has been unionized for 10 months.

“Once a new union is formed, the union and the corporation must meet together and make the contract," explained Jaylee Moore, Starbucks shift supervisor and lead union organizer. "So far, no store that is unionized has made any progress."

According to the Starbucks Workers Union, the organization is fighting for fair wages based on cost of living with baristas earning at least $20 an hour and shift supervisors at least $25.40 an hour.

"I want higher wages for my baristas," Moore added. "More say on health and safety conditions."

In addition, the union claims Starbucks changed its policy over Pride Month decorations and some stores have removed them.

"Our store has been fairly open to that, and that's why we're able to have Pride decorations such as the ones we have in the store today. It just makes me extremely proud as a queer worker to kind of see my people represented in the workplace," said Arrow Rubalcava, Santa Maria Starbucks barista.

Management at the McCoy location as well as Starbucks' corporate office did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

However, last week, Starbucks released a statement denying it made any changes to its Pride decoration policy, saying, "Here at Starbucks, we are dedicated to creating experiences where everyone is welcome and respected, with the belief that we are at our best when we create safe, inclusive environments for people to connect over coffee. Recognizing Pride Month every June is a longstanding tradition Starbucks is proud to be a part of. There has been no change to any guidance related to how our stores across the United States celebrate this moment."

Several other local union representatives made appearances in support of the strike in Santa Maria. Union workers say they are also pushing for more consistent schedules, affordable health coverage, and the reinstatement of transgender benefits coverage.

“That's why unions like Starbucks or the teachers or the UPS Teamsters, that's why they go on strike so that they can negotiate a better contract and put it on paper so that their employers will promise them to give them what they want and what they need to survive here in the Central Coast," said Leo Decasaus, Mobilization Coordinator with the Central Coast Labor Council.

"We want Starbucks to meet with us in good faith so we can finally get that first contract, so we can work together and flourish," Moore said.

The Starbucks location on McCoy and Broadway is expected to be open as usual on Tuesday.

We received comment from a Starbucks spokesperson who said in part:

We unwaveringly support the LGBTQIA2+ community. It is inaccurate to report that Starbucks has issued a ban on Pride decorations as there has been no change to company policy on this matter. We remain deeply concerned by false information being spread about our inclusive store environments, our company culture and the benefits we offer our partners. 

 Our store leaders remain empowered to decorate their stores for heritage months, including Pride Month. Partners in all U.S. company-owned stores are encouraged to work with their local leaders to find ways to authentically celebrate the diversity of the communities we call home within the framework of our established operational standards, Siren’s Eye appearance guidelines and partner dress code policy.

All reported partner concerns on this matter are being taken seriously and are routed for leadership review and to be addressed.