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Starbucks Workers At 2 SoCal Stores Vote To Unionize

A group of people stand together for a photo in front of a Starbucks sign with their fists in the air.
Employees from the Long Beach and Lakewood stores during rallies in April 2022.
(Courtesy Tyler Keelling)
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Workers at two local Starbucks stores — one in Lakewood, the other in Long Beach — have overwhelmingly voted to unionize. They're the first locations in Southern California to do so.

Organizing efforts at the Lakewood location have been led by barista Tyler Keeling. Earlier in the day, he was nervous but confident about the vote.

"Workers are waking up and saying we are the ones who make the money for the company, nobody else," Kelling said. "It's not a CEO, it's not some high upper management — it's us at the ground level interacting with customers that is making every dime for this company."

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Barista Josie Serrano has been leading organizing efforts at the Long Beach location.

"We've kind of been in disbelief for a little while. We kind of just feel like we're floating," Serrano said.

Two stores in Santa Cruz just became the first in California to unionize. As Starbucks faces unionization efforts throughout the country, Serrano said they hope other locations feel empowered to take action.

"I really do think that this movement is only going to grow when more partners can see that we're all working together and we're only growing and growing," Serrano said, "and all these union elections, we're winning on such a big majority now that we're unstoppable."

Starbucks has not yet replied to KPCC's request for comment, but a spokesperson said earlier via a statement that the company believes they work better with local stores "as partners, without a union in between, and that conviction has not changed."

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