COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Change is brewing for coffee giant Starbucks.
According to reports, more than 150 company-owned cafes across the country announced plans to unionize, including one in downtown Columbus.
The move also appears to have the support of a U.S. lawmaker.
“We are the first Starbucks store in central Ohio that has filed union cards,” said barista Ben Baldwin.
With that, Baldwin said employees of the East Broad Street location are now part of a nationwide movement.
“With the pandemic, it’s really shown that all these essential workers need higher quality of life,” he said.
Those workers are now demanding higher wages and better conditions in the workplace.
“I just hope that the company, Starbucks, will start feeling just as obligated to us as they want us to feel obligated to them as employees,” said barista AnnMarie Norris.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, is helping fuel their campaign.
“We see executive compensation go up at stratospheric levels, corporations are more profitable this year than any time since 1950, yet wages have been pretty flat for years in this country,” Brown said.
Starbuck shift supervisor Damon Schnur said he hopes the senator’s support sends a message to Starbucks leadership, paving the way toward progress.
“I think seeing someone in his position come and show solidarity is incredibly important for the future,” Schnur said.
“I’ll always stand on the side of workers,” Brown said.
Starbucks released the following statement:
“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. 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.”