Starbucks workers in Lethbridge make efforts to unionize

Employees of five Starbucks locations in Lethbridge have filed an application for a union certification vote with the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

The United Steelworkers (USW), a private sector union that has members across Canada, is representing the workers. 

Pablo Guerra, an organizer with the union, said the Starbucks employees are advocating for better working conditions and wages.

“Throughout the pandemic, Starbucks workers have faced unrealistic expectations from the coffee giant. Workers are burning out and are struggling mentally and physically,” said Guerra.

“These workers strongly believe joining the USW is the only way to drive change in their workplaces.”

Over 115 workers are employed by the five Lethbridge stores, according to a release by the union. 

Now that the application has been submitted, the labour board will take comments from Starbucks before opening up voting for the union to employees. 

To be successful, the union must receive the support of more than half of the workers. 

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Starbucks said the company believes workers are better off without a union. 

“The best way to create an exceptional experience [as] partners is through an open and direct working relationship,” she said. 

“We continue to respect our partners’ right to organize, or not to organize, and we respect the union process. All claims of anti-union activity are categorically false.”

Guerra said he has concerns about the workers’ ability to organize in Alberta because of the province’s labour laws. 

“[The laws] are very favourable to the employer and they have [limited] what the union can do,” he said.

“But these people, they need a union and we’re going to fight.”

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