☕ 294 stores across the country have voted to unionize, including a store in Biddeford and several in Massachusetts

☕ CEO Howard Schultz denied accusations the store is not negotiating with unionized stores

☕ Workers in Rochester say their concerns are brushed off by management

Workers at the Starbucks in Rochester wants to be the first New Hampshire store to unionize.

294 stores across the country have voted to unionize, including a store in Biddeford, Maine, and several in Massachusetts. A store in Portland was closed by the company after a vote to unionize due to poor sales.

The company opposes the union effort and has been accused of not negotiating in good faith with members of the Starbucks Workers Union. CEO Howard Schultz denied the accusation before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and said there's no need for a union as the chain offers good wages and benefits.

“We’ve done everything that we possibly can to respect the right under the law of our partners’ ability to join a union,” Schultz told the Senate committee,"

NH Senator Maggie Hassan is a member of the committee, and said Starbucks' delays in negotiating with the union is "truly unacceptable."

Upon learning of the attempt at unionization by the Rochester store Hassan spokeswoman Sydney Petersen said the senator will always work to protect the right of all workers to organize and collectively bargain.

"She is encouraged by the unionization efforts of Starbucks employees in New Hampshire and across the country. The Senator will continue working to hold companies -- including Starbucks -- accountable to ensure that they're complying with federal labor law," Petersen said in an email.

Sen. Maggie Hassan during a Senate committee hearing about Starbucks
Sen. Maggie Hassan during a Senate committee hearing about Starbucks (C-SPAN)

Unionization is 'Absolutely Necessary'

Workers at the Starbucks at The Marketplace don't agree, and have petitioned the union to join, according to a letter on the Starbucks Workers Union Twitter account.

"Marketplace Drive announces with this letter our intent to unionize and we urge our fellow New Hampshire stores to consider doing the same," the letter reads.

In the letter, the workers said they are taking the step they feel is "absolutely necessary" to deal with issues that began during the pandemic.

"We were tasked with upholding policies that directly resulted in a sharp spike of abuse and then punished for upholding those same policies any time it resulted in a customer complaint. Direct and reasonable requests to provide a sense of comfort were ignored and discouraged," the workers wrote.

The workers say they no longer receive specific sick time for COVID-19, despite infection being an ongoing risk. Equipment that is broken takes months to replace, and training is poor, with new hires often being "misled" regarding the number of hours they can expect to work.

There are also complaints of "verbal/sexual harassment, sabotaged transfers, long-term safety concerns regarding problem customers, slurs being used on the floor, inequal pay, sexism, refusal to use an individual's preferred pronoun and bullying."

No Care From Management

Management at the store also doesn't show any care for their issues and concerns in a meaningful way. Workers feel "brushed off."

"No care is shown in a meaningful, tangible way. No care is shown through action and in fact actions have frequently led us to believe the opposite," reads the letter.

“We love our jobs and our hopes for it aren't extravagant. We want to be active in the process of how our store is run. We want to be trained and staffed to meet the demand we are presented with, and to give a consistent, clean, safe, and pleasant experience to our customers.”

The letter is signed by several workers "and many others who wish to remain anonymous."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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