July 15th, 2024

Lethbridge Starbucks employees seeking to unionize

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on May 27, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber People sit on the patio at the 5 Avenue North Starbucks location. Staff at five Starbucks stores in Lethbridge are attempting to unionize.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge Starbucks employees at several locations are seeking to unionize with the United Steelworkers union (USW), looking for better working conditions.
The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, which goes by United Steelworkers or USW, has filed an application with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) for a union-certification vote on behalf of Starbucks workers at five stores in Lethbridge.
Western Canadian Director of the USW Scott Lunny said Lethbridge Starbucks employees reached out to the USW after they successfully unionized a Starbucks store in Victoria.
He said after that took place, they were contacted by multiple workers from various Starbucks locations all throughout Canada.
“In Lethbridge in particular there was a good interest from the workers there and in following up on that, majority of them signed cards and then we made the step to apply to the Alberta Labour Relations Board,” said Lunny.
He said he is hopeful for the employees to get certified and to add them to the growing number of stores that are certified all through North America.
Lunny explained there has been some safety issues members have raised particularly through COVID. Some of them include challenges with personal protective equipment and being forced to work while sick due to staff shortages.
“The ups and downs of working in a frontline job during a pandemic, a lot of pressure to work faster, or not necessarily thinking about safety… issues like that,” said Lunny.
He said another issue workers are having has to do with pay and hours worked.
“A lot of those folks are trying to pay their bills and they want higher pay and more hours, not higher pay and less hours or more hours and lower pay,” said Lunny.
He said the real advantage for workers to join a union is that have the ability to sit down collectively across the table from their employer, talk about those issues and put something into a collective agreement, a contract that can be enforced afterwards.
There are over 115 workers between the five stores in Lethbridge looking to unionize from the Lethbridge Chapters, Mayor Magrath South, South Lethbridge, Mayor Magrath Drive North and West Lethbridge Towne Centre locations.

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