Workers at Morris County Starbucks become NJ’s 5th to unionize

Kimberly Redmond//August 23, 2023//


Workers at Morris County Starbucks become NJ’s 5th to unionize

Kimberly Redmond//August 23, 2023//

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Workers at Starbucks in Succasunna have joined a growing number of the Seattle coffee giant’s stores that have opted to unionize.

According to Service Employees International Union (SEIU), employees voted 17-4 to organize Aug. 10, making it the fifth Starbucks location in New Jersey to do so.

Since December 2021, workers at 446 Starbucks shops in 46 states have filed to organize. Of those, 354 locations in 42 states won union elections — the most formed in a 12-month-period for any company in the U.S. over the past two decades, according to Starbucks Workers United.

Within New Jersey, cafés in Hamilton, Summit, Montclair and Hopewell (Pennington) are all rallying to demand improved training, quality health care benefits, consistent scheduling and protection of benefits.

In a statement, Rouen Nelson, who has worked at Starbucks in Succasunna for over two years, said, “I can say that management has undermined our needs, solely focusing on corporate demands. We have survived understaffing and illegal union busting practices from our ever-changing managers. Our success this week ensures that our voices will be heard, and our workplace environment will be a welcoming one. Can not wait to see what we can accomplish in the future.”

Albert Arroyo, co-manager of the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board, Workers United, SEIU, congratulated Succasunna’s employees, saying, “We commend their efforts in calling the Starbucks company to begin bargaining in good faith. We support their cause and encourage the public and legislators to join us in the unionizing of Starbucks workers.”

In a statement to NJBIZ, a spokesperson for Starbucks reinforced that the company respects “the right of all partners to make their own decisions about union representation” and is “committed to engaging in good faith collective bargaining for each store where a union has been appropriately certified.”

Starbucks – which has more than 9,000 stores nationwide – has opposed the unionization efforts, saying the company functions best when it works directly with employees.

U.S Sens. Cory Booker, far left, and Robert Menendez, foreground, push for President Joe Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure plan in Newark on April 26, 2021.
U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, far left, and Bob Menendez, foreground, shown in April 2021. – OFFICE OF U.S. SEN. ROBERT MENEDEZ

In March, Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, both Democrats from New Jersey, penned a letter to then-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz urging him to stop delaying negotiations with the cafés that have unionized in the Garden State.

In the letter, the senators called on Schultz and Starbucks to negotiate in good faith with Starbucks Workers United as required by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), noting that the four shops had waited between six and 10 months to form a first collective bargaining agreement, as required by the NLRA.

According to SEIU, the National Labor Relations Board is currently prosecuting the company for failing to bargain in good faith with workers.

So far, in 15 favorable decisions out of 16, NLRB judges have found that Starbucks committed 161 federal labor law violations, including 19 unlawful discharges.

The federal government is currently prosecuting Starbucks for approximately 75 complaints, encompassing over 200 charges and alleging more than 1300 violations, including 77 discharges, the SEIU said.