Podcast | The rise of the unionized barista

Reporter Lizz Giordano discusses the recent labor organizing push in Washington and the struggles between Starbucks and its workers.

A number of Starbuck union pins on a denim jacket

Starbucks worker organizer Sarah Pappin’s union pins on her jean jacket, photographed while she was supporting the January 26, 2023, union vote at the Shoreline Gateway shopping center Starbucks. (Grant Hindsley for Crosscut)

When employees at a Starbucks coffee shop in Buffalo, New York, voted to unionize in December 2021, it was big news. The result was a first for the Seattle-based corporation. Since then, workers at hundreds of locations across the country have followed suit. 

But in the year since, almost nothing has happened at the bargaining table. And union members allege that Starbucks has retaliated in a number of ways, from closing unionized stores to creating new benefits for nonunionized workers. 

Listen to Crosscut Reports on Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazon or wherever you get your podcasts.

For this episode of the Crosscut Reports podcast, host Sara Bernard speaks with reporter Lizz Giordano about what, exactly, has been happening at the bargaining table. 

She also discusses what comes next for these workers and what their efforts say about the broader debate around unions, workers' rights and a post-pandemic labor market.

Read our full report on Starbucks and the emerging labor movement here

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