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Chatsworth Starbucks Employees Are First To Seek Unionization In LA County

A close up of the Starbucks logo, which is an illustration of a siren in green and white. There are plants in the foreground of the photo.
Starbucks has nearly 9,000 stores in the United States.
(Justin Sullivan
Getty Images)
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The fight for unionization at Starbucks has reached Los Angeles County.

In Chatsworth, the Mason and Lassen store is the first Southern California location to seek a union by filing with the National Relations Labor Board. The store joins two others in Roseville and Santa Cruz, which filed this month.

In a letter from the store’s organizing committee to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, the Chatsworth employees say they are forming the union with the desire to “create a culture of warmth and understanding.” They’re hoping Starbucks will work with them to achieve that by respecting their right to unionize.

“We deserve a voice and the power to create change that benefits not only the partners at our store but the company which we serve, and we call on you to ensure we are able to do so,” the committee wrote.

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The employees are calling on the coffee giant to sign the eight principles for fair election designed to prevent interference, such as agreement for no negative repercussions.

The L.A. push comes at a time when Starbucks workers are organizing across the nation in cities including Seattle — where the company was founded — and Chicago. The movement started with a store in Buffalo, N.Y. that successfully unionized late last year. Since then, more than 80 stores in the United States have opened cases with the NLRB, according to union election data.

While the number of stores seeking to unionize represents a small percentage of Starbucks’ nearly 9,000 company-run U.S. locations, the increase has put the company in the spotlight for workers’ rights.

In a statement to LAist, Starbucks says it’s “listening and learning” from these stores, but the company believes it’s better without a union.

“From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed,” the Starbucks spokesperson wrote in an email.

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