Press Release

Workers United commits initial $1 million to establish Strike and Defense Fund for Starbucks Partners

By Workers United

PHILADELPHIA - Workers United, the union supporting Starbucks workers across the country as they organize, is announcing our intention to establish a Strike and Defense Fund with initial dedicated funding of $1 million for the Starbucks Workers United campaign.

“In establishing this fund, we want Starbucks partners to know that we have their backs, and are solidly behind them as they bravely organize and negotiate for better working conditions in their workplace,” said Lynne Fox, International President of Workers United, an SEIU affiliate.

The seed money of $1 million will be used to support workers who go on strike, to ensure their economic well-being is not jeopardized as they fight for their workplace rights. It will pay workers for lost time as they strike, and other benefits.

“A million dollar strike fund is an incredible show of support from our union,” said Reed Essex, a Starbucks partner from Chicago whose store is scheduled to vote soon. “It’s important partners remember that this is a national campaign that has the backing of a union with a significant storied history of success. We’ve unionized 100 stores in 25 states, with more to come in the next weeks and months. Our ability to hold out for a just contract will come down to being able to support each other for as long as it takes.”

“By creating this Strike Fund, Workers United has not only enabled but empowered partners to fearlessly organize our stores and hold Starbucks accountable to its obligation to negotiate in good faith. This support will propel our movement forward as a growing number of stores prepare to meet at the bargaining table this summer,” said Kylah Clay, a partner from Boston.

Workers United is the union that has ignited the passion and imagination of thousands of hourly wage workers across the country who seek to improve their workplace. What started as a bold campaign at one Starbucks store in Upstate New York has exploded to more than 270 stores across the country seeking union representation.

Since the first store organized, Starbucks has aggressively fought against its own partners, using illegal anti-union tactics to intimidate and punish partners for organizing. In response, Workers United has filed around 180 Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. 

NLRB regional offices have been investigating the company’s anti-union conduct and have so far issued nine complaints charging Starbucks with violating U.S. labor laws. In Memphis, Tennessee, the NLRB’s regional office has charged that the company unlawfully fired seven partners and is now prosecuting the company.  Five of the discharged partners were on the union’s six member organizing committee. In Upstate New York, the NLRB’s Buffalo office alleged “serious and substantial” misconduct by Starbucks, and has charged the company with over 200 violations of U.S. labor laws in one of the largest complaints in U.S. history.

“Workers United has shown a true commitment to partners organizing in their stores. This strike fund alone gives organizing partners across the country a true form of security when standing up for ourselves,” said Tyler Keeling, a partner from Los Angeles. “We are legally protected when it comes to organizing and forming a union, but Starbucks has shown no intention of respecting this right. This strike fund gives true peace of mind to partners organizing across the country. We now know that, through this strike fund, we have a financial fallback when protesting unfair labor practices within our workplace. This is the true partner experience - We are being uplifted and supported by an organization of fellow workers whose number one priority is to give us a seat at the table- to truly let our voices be heard. We no longer need to fear for our paychecks, our very livelihood, when exercising our right to form a union.

“This strike fund will allow all workers to take the type of collective action necessary as they fight for a fair contract,” said Richard Minter, International Organizing Director for Workers United. “Partners should know, if they don’t already, that they have the full support of an international union behind them.”

Workers United and its predecessor unions have been fighting for social and economic justice of workers worldwide for more than 100 years. Our belief in justice, education, equity, compassion and civility guides the work we do. Workers United represents more than 86,000 workers in the manufacturing, apparel and textiles, distribution, food service, hospitality, industrial laundry, non-profit and fitness sectors in the United States and Canada.

“I’m encouraged by Workers United’s support in building this fund to help our partners,” said Ley Kido, a partner of nine years, most recently with the NYC Roastery. “I hope Starbucks can respect us by actually listening to us at the table. We mean business and we deserve to be taken seriously.”

“We will not back down, we will not let our voices be silenced- We will be heard, and now we no longer have to be scared,” Keeling said.


Back To News