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Workers at a Somerville Starbucks are unionizing

Baristas at a Somerville Avenue Starbucks say they feel “unheard, unrecognized, and disrespected.”

Following the lead of thousands of Starbucks employees across the nation, baristas at a Somerville Starbucks are taking steps to unionize.

On Friday, employees at a Starbucks located at 711 Somerville Ave. filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to unionize with Starbucks Workers United, according to a statement by the organization. 

The Somerville workers join a nationwide movement of 285 Starbucks locations and more than 7,000 baristas organizing for improved working conditions and to have more say in their benefits and compensation.

The Somerville baristas sent a letter to CEO Howard Schultz saying they don’t feel appreciated for their work but feel “unheard, unrecognized, and disrespected.” 


In the letter shared on Twitter, employees said they “deserve a living wage, comprehensive physical and mental health benefits, performance-based raises, protections from being overworked or unsanitary working conditions, and for our availability and requested time off to be considered with respect.”

Workers also accused the company of brushing off or neglecting requests for better accommodation. They said some employees have dealt with “distressing or threatening situations, with little to no support from management or the company as a whole.”

The baristas also claim that they’ve at times been forced to work in “unsafe and unhealthy working conditions” and that Starbucks customers have commented on employees seeming overworked and understaffed.

About a dozen Boston-area Starbucks have voted to unionize. Last year, union workers at a Commonwealth Avenue Starbucks went on a two-month-long strike, the longest in the company’s history. 

A Starbucks in Buffalo, N.Y., was the first location to unionize, in December 2021. Schultz told CNN that the nationwide unionization push reflects a problem among young workers that is “much bigger than Starbucks.”

In a statement sent to Business Insider, a Starbucks spokesperson said: “We respect the rights of all partners to make their decisions regarding unions — whether they favor or oppose representation — and we are firmly committed to continue good faith bargaining for the 3% of U.S. company-owned locations that are represented.”


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