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Unionized MI Starbucks workers join national strike for fair contract

Starbucks Strikers 11-17-22.jpg
Kevin Lavery
Employees of the Starbucks near the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing picket outside their store on November 17, 2022.

A unionized Starbucks store near the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing joined more than 100 others nationwide Thursday to strike for better working conditions.

A handful of baristas picketed outside the East Lansing store in a strong late morning snowstorm to call for a fair contract.

Members of Starbucks Workers United are pushing for higher wages, enhanced workplace safety and increased staffing.

Employee Emily Grasel says a growing number of mobile orders makes 30-minute wait times a daily occurrence.

“There are times where we have three people drowning inside while there’s 50 people waiting in the lobby for their drinks,” Grasel said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Grasel’s colleague Lydia Rutkowski says her store tried to sit down with management to talk about their contract.

“They had a meeting,” Rutkowski explained. “People from our store were there for six hours; they came in (for) three minutes and they were done. They looked at it and walked away. It’s just upsetting to be seen as almost like a piece of trash to them.”

Workers at a Lansing Starbucks on Lake Lansing Road also picketed Thursday.

In a written statement, a Starbucks spokesperson says the company “has continued to engage Workers United representatives in a good faith effort to move the bargaining process forward. As a result of our efforts, we’ve shown up to more than 50 bargaining sessions across the country and have another 60 scheduled in the coming weeks.”

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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