First Amazon, then Starbucks and Trader Joe's, and now Chipotle workers have organized a union. Workers at Chipotle in Lansing, Michigan voted to be represented by the Teamsters Union, and on August 26, 2022, it was announced that they won the election 11-3. The first store to file for unionization was in Augusta, Maine, and the store was immediately closed. Lawmakers suggested the closure was union-busting and have called for an investigation, while Chipotle insists the closure was for staffing issues. That the Lansing store organized to overcome this union-busting tactic represents an important win, perhaps bringing this corporate giant to the bargaining table with workers represented by a union for a different bargaining process. Check out this video from More Perfect Union about their efforts.
Yet, if the experiences of the Amazon Labor Union and Starbucks Workers United, the latter with more than 200 unionized stores across the country, are any portend for the future, these workers can expect pushback, stalling, firings, and other intimidation tactics. Amazon and Starbucks, have both been accused of union-busting tactics, the former at the Bessemer, Alabama and Long Island Warehouse, and the latter in Austin, Phoenix, Buffalo, and other stores.
After a recent National Labor Relations Board hearing in Phoenix, Arizona to reinstate fired SWU workers Laila Dalton, Alyssa Sanchez and Tyler Gillette, where the judge ruled in favor of Starbucks, Reggie Borges, a media representative from the corporation stated "The ruling by the judge today is further evidence that any claims of anti-union activity are categorically false," he said. "We respect our partners' right to organize, and at the same time, we continue to support our local leaders' decisions grounded in our Mission and Values." Here is Starbuck's official statement on unionization, a statement that has been repeated for generations: "We can work together, side by side. Or we can work with you through a 'third party across a negotiating table." Check out this almost verbatim statement reported in WaPo from Laurie Schalow, chief corporate affairs officer at Chipotle. "We're disappointed that the employees at our Lansing, MI, restaurant chose to have a third party speak on their behalf because we continue to believe that working directly together is best for our employees." Working together side by side presupposes trust and respect, claiming the union is a third party is simply a misrepresentation: the workers are the union.