Hundreds of people marched through downtown Seattle in support of newly unionized Starbucks workers, despite harrowing stories from across the country.
The march was part of a campaign to organize workers at two Seattle giants.
This latest push comes as the flagship Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle voted to unionize this week.
So far, Workers United says it has organized 25 other Starbucks stores across the country.
At the center of this fight is Seattle City Councilman Kshama Sawant.
Sawant has given up part of his salary to support causes like this.
Sawant’s contribution is how union organizers were able to bring Starbucks workers here from across the country.
The workers came here to Cal Anderson Park to share their stories and add their voices to what they say is a national movement to organize Starbucks, as well as Amazon.
Hundreds of people, many of them Starbucks employees in the Emerald City and beyond, took to the streets of Seattle. Here, they said, they intended to send a message to newly reappointed CEO Howard Schultz.
Their chants rang out as they made their way to Westlake Park unescorted by Seattle police, giving frontline workers a boost.
“Oh, I love that stuff,” Billie Adeosun said. “It’s, it’s our most powerful weapon.”
Adeosun works at an Olympia Starbucks which she says was the first on the West Coast to start unionizing, though workers have not endured the strain without concern. Now she watches the labor movement catch fire among her peers.
“We’re showing (newly reinstated CEO) Howard Schultz, and we’re showing other companies that are like Starbucks, that we’re not going to be silenced,” Adeosun said, “that we’re not going to stop. ”
Just last Thursday, the Workers United union won a victory at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, the 26th yes so far at the Seattle-based coffee giant.
“I think a lot of it was just the teamwork between all the roasting partners,” said Liz Duran, a roaster worker for a year.
But there were less triumphant stories of the Starbucks workers whom Seattle board member Kshama Sawant had flown in from around the country.
“This month would have been my third year until I got laid off on April 11,” said Hannah Whitbeck, of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I was fired for leaving a barista alone in the store without contacting management.”
Sawant is now inviting workers to join the protest on May Day, May Day.
As for the Olympia Starbucks workers who started the labor movement here, they expect to hear the results of their union vote next Friday.
So stay tuned.
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