Grand Rapids Starbucks unionizes, 10 more Michigan stores slated for June votes

One more store awaits an election date

By: - May 17, 2022 1:08 pm

The Starbucks on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing is organizing | Susan J. Demas

A Grand Rapids store has become the first Starbucks location in Michigan to successfully unionize.

The 15-3 vote last week from workers at 2480 Burton St. SE in Grand Rapids comes as a first major victory for state organizers, who have been fighting for the vote as part of a nationwide movement that began in Buffalo, N.Y., and reached Michigan in January.

On Jan. 28, four stores in Michigan — two in Ann Arbor, one in Grand Blanc and one in Clinton Township — were the first in the state to file for union elections.

Four more stores followed suit on Feb. 4 — three in Ann Arbor, one in Lansing. Later that month, a store in Flint joined the effort.

Locations of the 12 Michigan stores seeking to unionize:

  • 2480 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids (successfully unionized as of May 13)
  • 1214 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor (votes June 7)
  • 300 S. Main St., Ann Arbor (votes June 7)
  • 222 S. State St., Ann Arbor (votes June 7)
  • 120 S. Zeeb Rd. #101, Ann Arbor (votes June 7)
  • 4585 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor (votes June 7)
  • 4243 Miller Rd., Flint (votes June 9)
  • 1141 E Grand River Ave., East Lansing (votes June 9)
  • 2624 Lake Lansing Rd., Lansing (votes June 9)
  • 17410 Hall Rd., Clinton Township (votes June 9)
  • 11353 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc (votes June 9)
  • 3650 Carpenter Rd., Ypsilanti (election date TBD)

On March 7, three additional stores in Flint, East Lansing and Grand Rapids also filed for union elections. A store in Ypsilanti filed on April 12.

Matthew Kain, a labor organizer with Workers United who is working with Michigan Starbucks stores, says that 10 stores learned of their election dates from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on May 9. Some of those stores had been waiting for a date since January.

Five Ann Arbor stores will count their votes on June 7. Five more stores, located in Lansing, East Lansing, Flint, Grand Blanc and Clinton Township, will be counting their votes on June 9.

The final store on Carpenter Road in Ypsilanti, which was the last to petition for a union election, is still awaiting a decision for their hearing.

There are now more than 250 organizing Starbucks locations across 33 states. At least 70 have successfully unionized, Kain said.

Organizing Starbucks workers point to issues like wages, inconsistent COVID-19 protocols and a subpar training program as reasons to seek a union vote on an individual store basis. The company has consistently resisted unionization efforts.

“As we have said throughout, we will respect the process and will bargain in good faith guided by our principles laid out here. We hope that the union does the same,” a Starbucks spokesperson said Tuesday.

“Regarding the additional petitions you mentioned, we are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed.”

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).

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