Grand Rapids Starbucks store becomes first in Michigan to unionize

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

A Starbucks store in Grand Rapids has become the first location in Michigan to unionize amid a broader unionization movement within the Seattle-based coffee chain.

Workers at a Starbucks store at 2480 Burton St. SE won a union election administered by the National Labor Relations Board with 15 votes in favor of unionizing and three against, according to the NLRB.

The vote makes the Grand Rapids store the first in Michigan to unionize, but others may soon follow suit. NLRB election dates are scheduled at 10 other stores in Ann Arbor, Clinton Township, Flint, Grand Blanc, Lansing and East Lansing in the first week of June. A 12th store, in Ann Arbor, is waiting for an election date to be scheduled, according to a spokesperson with the union.

“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country," Starbucks said in a statement Friday in response to a request for comment. "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. We respect our partners' right to organize and are committed to following the NLRB process.”

Starbucks has more than 15,000 stores in the U.S.. As of earlier this month, more than 50 have unionized, with many more elections scheduled, HuffPost reported. Starbucks Workers United, the campaign under which Starbucks workers are unionizing, has won the vast majority of its elections despite aggressive anti-union tactics from the company.

The campaign on Friday celebrated the Grand Rapids win on Twitter.

The Buffalo, N.Y., regional director for the NLRB recently hit Starbucks with a complaint accusing the company of 29 unfair labor practice charges. And the agency has taken actions against Starbucks over allegations it retaliated against employees involved in union organizing.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski