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Clarksville Starbucks workers become chain’s first in Indiana to unionize

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J. Tyler Franklin
/
WFPL

Workers at a Clarksville Starbucks voted in favor of unionizing late last week, becoming the Seattle-based chain’s first baristas in Indiana to do so.

Hourly employees at the 1231 Veterans Parkway store voted 14-1 for representation with Workers United, a U.S. and Canadian labor union. The 27 eligible voters were full-time and part-time baristas and shift supervisors, according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which conducted the monthlong mail-in election.

Organizing employees stated their plan to unionize at the end of May. Their efforts are part of a national trend of Starbucks and other coffee shop workers seeking collective bargaining power. Hundreds of U.S. Starbucks locations have filed with the NLRB to hold elections over the past year.

Anna Lane is a barista who said she joined the Clarksville store just before the election began. During her time there, she said she’s seen unity among her coworkers through the organizing effort.

“Just being welcomed by the people that work here into this process and into what’s happening is just amazing,” Lane said.

Fellow barista Mila Wade said she’s worked at the Clarksville location for over a year. Before the results arrived on Friday, she said she was confident the vote would be in favor of the union.

“Everyone should want higher wages and everyone should want better working conditions,” Wade said. “And the only way to achieve that is to have a strong labor movement in the country.”

In response to a request for the company’s comment on the Clarksville election result, a Starbucks representative emailed the following statement:

“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. We respect our partner’s right to organize and are committed to following the NLRB process.”

The Clarksville staff is the second at a Louisville-area Starbucks to unionize. In May, employees at an East End location became the chain’s first baristas in Kentucky to vote in favor of a union.

Another local Starbucks, in Bon Air on Bardstown Road, is currently having an election to unionize. Its scheduled end date is mid-August.

Baristas at the Louisville chain Heine Brothers’ Coffee have also been involved in organizing efforts. Organizing workers announced their intention to unionize in April and recently stated they had filed with the NLRB to hold an election.