Baristas from the Clayton Heights Starbucks in Surrey, B.C., and Valley Centre Starbucks in Langley, B.C., have voted 91% in favour of taking strike action if a deal cannot be reached between the United Steelworkers union (USW) and the coffee giant.
“The baristas joined the union looking for respect from their employer, and quite frankly they are tired of the company dragging its feet and continuing to disrespect them by not reaching a fair deal,” said Al Bieksa, President of USW Local 2009.
A strike vote is taken among employees to authorize the union to have the option to serve strike notice if the two parties are unable to reach a negotiated collective agreement. A positive strike mandate provides a strong show of solidarity for the union’s bargaining committee and encourages the two parties to return to the bargaining table to reach a deal.
“This strong strike mandate reinforces the support these workers have for their bargaining committee. I strongly believe these workers deserve fair wages and to be able to work when they are available. Right now, Starbucks continues to hire people, which is good, but sometimes they hire too many people and then everyone suffers through hours being cut and promised hours are not kept. These workers need better protections for stable hours and scheduling,” added Bieksa.
Starbucks’ final offer, tabled on Aug. 29, included tentatively agreed-upon language that has been negotiated to date, but two key items remained outstanding: hours of work and wages.
“I am proud of these baristas who are rising against injustices to empower change and demanding better. Together, we are brewing up a movement that is as strong as steel that can’t be ignored. We will continue to fight until we have reached a strong first agreement,” said Bieksa.
With a strong strike mandate from the membership, the union hopes to return to the bargaining table to get a fair first contract. If the parties are unable to reach a deal, the union will file a request for mediation with the B.C. Labour Relations Board.
The USW represents Starbucks workers at stores in Calgary, Edmonton and Sherwood Park in Alberta, and Victoria, Vancouver, Surrey and Langley in B.C., as well as newly organized stores in Waterloo and Ajax in Ontario. The USW also represents 225,000 members in nearly every economic sector across Canada and is the largest private-sector union in North America, with 850,000 members in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.
Each year, thousands of workers choose to join the USW because of our strong track record in creating healthier, safer and more respectful workplaces and negotiating better working conditions and fairer compensation – including good wages, benefits and pensions.
Starbucks workers interested in joining the USW can learn more about the benefits at betterworknow.ca/starbucks.
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