Updated Jun 10, 2022 - News

Cottonwood Heights' Starbucks first in Utah to unionize

Illustration of a union protest sign attached to a coffee stirrer in a to-go cup.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Starbucks employees in Cottonwood Heights voted to unionize Friday.

Why it matters: The store at 7025 S. Highland would be the first Starbucks in the state to unionize.

Zoom out: The vote is part of a nationwide unionization campaign at Starbucks stores since workers in Buffalo, New York, first voted to unionize in December to have more say in their working conditions and ensure longtime employees get raises.

Meanwhile: A second Utah Starbucks location, at 400 East and 400 South in downtown Salt Lake City, has submitted a petition to federal labor regulators to vote on representation — the first step of unionizing.

What they're saying: "We need to step up and say 'We're not just cogs in a machine,'" said Jacob Lawson, a shift supervisor who led efforts to organize at the Cottonwood Heights store.

Context: Lawson said he grew frustrated when Starbucks offered employees a pay raise to come to work in 2020, early in the pandemic, only to rescind the raise a few months later.

  • "They promised us that they would take care of us, and they just decided it was too much," Lawson said.
  • Starbucks did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment about the reasons for rescinding pandemic raises, or reaction to Friday's unionization vote.

The latest: Tensions rose this week when Starbucks announced it was closing an Ithaca, New York, store on June 10, two months after staff there voted to unionize.

What's next: Starbucks has promised pay raises and more training for employees — but only those at non-union stores.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to show the Starbucks in Cottonwood Heights voted to unionize Friday.


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