Ann Arbor, Mississippi (WXYZ) — Workers from more and more large companies, from Amazon to Google to Starbucks, are seeking union representatives, some of whom are more successful than others. ..

After workers at the Buffalo Starbucks location voted for the union in December 2021, a wave of union interest spread here in Michigan and throughout the country.

Within a few months, 10 Starbucks in Michigan successfully voted for the union, including five in Ann Arbor.

Hannah Whitbeck, a former Starbucks shift supervisor, said:

Whitbeck successfully led the union’s prosecution at her Ann Arbor Starbucks location. In early June, she and her colleagues received enough votes to represent Starbucks Workers United.

One Ann Arbor Starbucks voted against the formation of the union.

“Five of the six are very small areas and I think they are very good deals,” Whitbeck said.

According to the National Labor Relations Committee, union petitions for the first half of this year were 57% from October 1st to March 31st.

Professor Malik Masters teaches business at Wayne State University and writes extensively on labor issues. He told 7ActionNews that despite this measurable rise, the number of union members in our state is still far from its predecessor.

“In 1960, 50% of Michigan workers joined the union,” he said.

Fast-forwarding up to now is about 15% when the private and public sectors, which generally have a large number of members, are combined.

“Therefore, this is probably a turning point, but it’s too early to determine whether this represents a sea change in union success, either in Detroit, state-wide, or nationally,” Masters said. ..

A notable trend is the increase in hospitality workers like baristas seeking unions. A position that has not been widely unified historically.

Workers at the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, a midtown coffee shop, made a strikeback in February seeking higher wages, better benefits and paid sick leave.

They are also promoting the union with some unsolved cases before NLRB. The store closed in January due to the occurrence of COVID.

7 Action News talked to a coffee supplier lawyer. He said the place was no longer making money.

Frank Mamat, a lawyer representing Coffee Creations, said he was confident that the client was doing nothing wrong and hoped that NLRB would dismiss the complaint.

I also contacted the shopkeeper’s lawyer. We are still looking forward to your reply.

“The point I take away from it is that the company has a lot of power,” Masters said. “And they can close the business for financial reasons. They can’t close the business just to resist the union, but to prove that they closed the business because of union organization activities. Is often very difficult. “

The Masters believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major catalyst for this recent wave of union interest.

“There is no doubt that Starbucks workers across the country saw this opportunity and wanted to take advantage of it as soon as possible, and I think that’s one of the reasons they succeeded.”

As for Hannah, she wanted to feel like she and her colleagues were seated in the decision-making seat, so she feels that the seeds of the union were there long before COVID.

But the pandemic she said revealed certain concerns. She said COVID was a more marginal point.

In April, Hannah ended her position as a shift supervisor. In a letter, Starbucks quoted Hannah leaving the barista unattended in the store.

Hannah said she had never received a formal warning before that and was an employee of the model. She arrived only once late because she had a car accident. She feels her retirement is retaliatory for her leadership in seeking a union representative.

“I knew it could be,” she told Action News.

Hannah is currently working with NLRB to return to her position.

7 Action News contacted Starbucks for comment on Hannah’s dismissal. I haven’t heard back yet.


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