First Starbucks in Memphis votes in favor to unionize

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 1:54 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After months of waiting, an East Memphis Starbucks location has voted in favor of forming a union.

Former employees of the Starbucks, located at Poplar Ave near S Highland Street, who began the unionizing effort, say they wanted safer working conditions and better pay.

Those seven employees say they were fired by Starbucks after announcing their efforts to unionize. Starbucks on the other hand, says they were fired because of safety and security violations.

“Everyone behind me right now has put in tremendous work, tremendous hours to be able to fight for something that I thought was something that didn’t need to be fight for and that’s respect. That’s for dignity. That’s for workers rights and that’s the first thing that we’re starting to talk about,” Beto Sanchez said.

The Poplar Avenue store is just one of dozens of Starbucks locations across the country who have voted to unionize.

If no objections are filed against Tuesday’s vote, the National Labor Rights Board says it will be certified on June 14.

A federal injunction has been filed by the NLRB to have the Memphis 7′s jobs reinstated. The hearing is expected in federal court on Thursday.

In response to Tuesday’s 11-3 vote to unionize, a spokesperson from Starbucks told Action News 5: “As we have said throughout, we will respect the process and will bargain in good faith guided by our principles. We hope that the union does the same.”

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