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Two Greater Lansing Starbucks stores vote to unionize

Starbucks employees stand with signs in favor of unionizing outside the Grand River Avenue store.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
Starbucks employees celebrate winning union outside the Grand River Avenue.

Two Greater Lansing Starbucks stores voted to unionize Thursday. Their unionization efforts are part of a growing wave of workers organizing at the coffee chain. 

More than a dozen workers and supporters gathered Thursday at the Lake Lansing store for a watch party of the union vote count.

Grace Norris works at that store. She says she’s been talking to workers about unionization efforts since last December.

 “I think for me personally, it was about the fact that I have a lot of respect for the work that we do and I believe that we deserve to have a say in our work environment and we deserve to feel supported by our job," she said.

Norris says she makes $13 dollars an hour and is hoping to bargain for higher wages.

"I am not going to say how much we are going to be asking for but we are willing to negotiate and work with them," she said.

Olivier Stroud a young white person with red hair can be seen sitting on a chair. They are holding a sign that says "Yes".
Michelle Jokisch Polo
Upon finding out that the Lake Lansing Starbucks store employees voted in favor of unionizing Olivier Straud shouted through a megaphone: "You are now drinking union coffee." Straud is an employee at the store.

Madisyn Prichard also works at the Lake Lansing Starbucks. Like Norris, they say they want to be able to earn more.

"In terms of fast food (wages), we are like the lowest," they said. "And in a way we deal with a lot different things. And because of that, like I feel like there's just a lot more riding on a Starbucks barista than a lot of other places."

Meanwhile in a unanimous vote, workers at a store in East Lansing also voted to unionize.

Emily Grasel has been working at the East Lansing store on Grand River Avenue for two years. She says she would like to see better working conditions at the store.

"Id like to see them install lights outside so that when we close the store we are not leaving in the pitch dark," she said. "They’ve been promising us a second blender for two years now and we still don’t have it. I am hoping that we’ll finally get it now too."

Grasel says that second blender would make it a lot easier for her and the rest of the employees to serve customers.

Separately, a Starbucks store in Grand Blanc was the only one in mid-Michigan to vote against unionization efforts. So far, nine Michigan stores have voted in favor of a union.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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