LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — While a second Starbucks location in Nevada announced its intent to unionize, the first location to successfully vote to do so still remains mostly unrepresented.
The Starbucks baristas and shift leads off Rainbow and Oakey made history in December as the first location in the state to vote for unionization.
A second location, off Tenaya and Azure in the North Valley, sent a letter this week following in their footsteps.
That letter was to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. In part, it reads, “This company has failed to provide many of its employees with a stable work environment but is still expecting us to progress.”
The Starbucks Workers United posted a tweet regarding the matter at the Starbucks Tenaya and Azure location.
16 employees, or ‘partners’, as they’re referred to, signed onto the letter.
“It’s scary. We’re going against a huge company that makes a lot of money and currently has a lot of power over us,” Haylie Smith, one of the Tenaya and Azure location unionization organizers, said outside her workplace Thursday afternoon.
Partners say they incur upwards of 700 orders each day, with each order containing anywhere from one to 50 items (the most extreme example they provided).
Tyson Dennis added that his store has not been staffed with enough partners to keep up with the high demand, as hours were cut following the winter holiday season. The group of partners called that season the “busiest” time for the company, though high demand has carried past it.
“It’s extremely high-paced. High pressure. Very stressful,” Dennis said in his store’s parking lot Thursday afternoon.
“We all just don’t like being here anymore, and it’s really sad to see because I know we all loved working here before,” Hannah Pacheco, one of the unionization organizers at the Tenaya and Azure location said while standing next to her coworkers on Thursday afternoon.
According to this group, most partners were scheduled over 20 hours a week over the winter holiday season, and have since been cut back to 12 hours a week.
“You hear, you know, you might lose your job. You don’t even want your manager to be mad at you, like, you still have to work with the manager,” Smith expressed. “You don’t want things to be awkward. You don’t want to feel like you’re targeting them. But ultimately, this is our problem with corporate.”
The group says they’re following in the footsteps of the Rainbow and Oakey location, which joined nearly 300 other unionized locations across the nation last month.
But, Lily Silveira, who helped organize the successful unionization vote at the store, shared that they have yet to reap most of the benefits that come with the vote.
“We don’t have any of those benefits yet,” Silveira said during a virtual interview Thursday afternoon. “We’re all kind of working together and figuring this out.”
She added that the vote allowed her location to begin collaborating on what they want included in a contract that will eventually be bargained with the Starbucks corporate office.
As of now, she told 8 News Now that higher pay, better health insurance, and guaranteed hours are all on the table.
“However, one of the best things we did get was our right to ask for union representation. So, if any corrective action is going to be taken against us, we have every right to request union representation, which is amazing in itself,” Silveira said. “We’re the first of many, and I think every Starbucks is going to unionize.”
Until the contract is agreed upon, she says they do not yet have to pay union dues.
In a response to 8 News Now, the Starbucks organization sent the following statement:
“At Starbucks, we respect our partners’ right to organize but believe that working directly, side-by-side, without a third party, is the best way to continue to elevate the partner experience at Starbucks. That said, where partners choose to be represented by a union, we respect that choice. We are committed to bargaining in good faith and hope the union does the same. We will continue to make decisions grounded by our Mission and Values and aligned with labor and employment laws.”Starbucks spokesperson
For now, the Tenaya and Azure workers are hoping for “needed” change, despite the long road to complete it ahead.
“We care about our customers, we care about the work that we do, and it’s hard to care for our customers when we’re not being cared for,” Dennis shared.
They add that they are holding a “sip-in” demonstration on Saturday. From 11 am to 3 pm, they will sit inside the store with other community supporters to garner other public support.
The letter follows an increasing trend in locations across the nation voting to unionize after the first location in Buffalo, New York successfully did so in December 2021.