Workers are looking for unions in Starbucks, Dollar General and Amazon stores.That’s why this is important

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“I actually oppose unions,” said the 37-year-old single mother. “I have heard a lot of bad news about unions.”

She likes her store manager at Dollar General in Bahamsted, Connecticut. She thinks other employees in the store are like family members: “I want to go to work as soon as I wake up,” she said.

But she and other employees didn’t like the way her store manager’s boss treated him. They especially didn’t like the lack of respect they said they felt from the top management of Dollar General. The company did not comment on Parson’s allegations.

She is willing to vote for the Food and Commercial Workers Federation in a vote held on Friday morning, although she said the general manager of Dollar threatened that if the union wins, they might close their stores.

“I’m tired of being treated unfairly. Our voices need to be heard,” she said. When asked what she hopes the union can achieve, she said: “We want to be treated fairly. We want our work to be respected and recognized. We want to get the compensation we deserve, including holiday pay.”

The result of Friday’s vote is unknown, as two of the seven people who voted have disputed ballots. But no matter where the vote goes, General dollar (Headquarters) Not alone. Workers are also trying to gain a foothold for the union from other major non-union employers.

Starbucks and Amazon are also working on unionization

Workers are Starbucks (SBUX) The store in Buffalo, New York has applied for a union affiliated with the International Union of Service Employees.Worker at four o’clock Amazon (Amazon) The distribution center near Staten Island, New York, plans to submit the card on Monday, signed by more than 2,000 employees, requesting a union vote there.
The exact amount of union work currently in progress cannot be obtained from the National Labor Relations Committee, which oversees most private sector elections. Another failed union effort at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama earlier this year showed that winning the right to represent workers is an uphill battle for today’s unions, especially when they encounter financially strong employers. Time.
But these efforts show that the current dynamics of the US labor market are changing. Employers cannot find the number of workers they want to fill record vacancies — and more workers are willing to give up jobs they don’t like.
Todd Vachon, assistant professor and director of labor education at Rutgers University, said this is also a sign of increasing union and worker activity, as evidenced by some high-profile strikes.

“Because individual workers feel less likely to be fired, even if there is no union, they are more willing to speak up and try to make changes,” Waxiong said. “Due to labor shortages, the potential to organize in these areas is much greater. But in this type of voting, unions are still at a disadvantage.”

Union seeks to restore power

The unions are working hard to reverse the decline in American power for decades. To this end, organizing new members and new industries will be crucial.

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, although nearly 40% of government workers are represented by unions, only 6.3% of the 110 million workers in American companies last year were union members. This is a slight increase from 2019, but the percentage of union workers has been steadily declining for the past 40 years, compared to 16.8% in 1983, which is the first year of BLS calculations.

In the retail industry, one of the country’s largest employers, this number is even less – last year only 4.6% of workers were union members, mainly in grocery stores.

Therefore, the signs of the efforts of grassroots organizations of major employers in some countries are signs of the life of American labor unions.

Dollar General is one of the fastest growing retailers in the United States, with more than 17,600 stores. At the beginning of this year, it has 158,000 employees and has hired 50,000 employees since mid-July alone. Currently no employees have joined the union. The company described the initial result of three votes to two against the union as a victory for the company, although if the other two votes are eventually counted and the results prove that they support the union, the union may still win.

The company’s statement said: “We still believe that unions are not in the best interests of our employees. Our employees benefit most from the open and direct communication we provide and a working environment based on trust, respect and opportunity.”

Efforts to unionize Starbucks

In Buffalo, many of the workers trying to organize Starbucks stores in Buffalo are young, only in their early 20s. Many people said that they would be the first in their families to join a union. But they said they believe that unions are the only way for them to express their opinions on the way the store operates and to win some fairness for their long-term colleagues. Although their seniority is higher than them, they usually earn only a few cents more per hour than them.

William Westlake (left) and Jaz Brisack (Jaz Brisack), two Starbucks employees in Buffalo, New York, are leading the organization of stores there. Organizational work is a work being done by many well-known companies, including Amazon and Dollar General.

“I have worked elsewhere. I think Starbucks is better than other companies in the industry. But that’s how they get rid of themselves is not the best,” said Jaz Brisack, 24, who has worked at Starbucks for less than a year. year. “We don’t want it to become a company built on low wages and high turnover.”

Starbucks is fighting the movement by letting executives who have meetings with employees flood the Buffalo market. Even the former chairman and chief executive Howard Schultz visited.

Starbucks said it offers many benefits that other companies in the industry cannot provide, including medical insurance for part-time employees and college tuition reimbursement. In the past 18 months, its wages have increased twice. The company said that its average hourly salary is more than $12, and more than half of its American employees earn more than $15 an hour. It says it has the best retention rate in the industry.

Starbucks regional vice president Alison Parker said in a letter to Buffalo employees: “We are taking urgent action to restore your store operations to our standards.” “We have heard and witnessed you. Challenges in the store. It’s not good-you deserve better. We are recruiting more recruiters and managers to help arrange personnel”

The company has asked the NLRB to vote in all 20 company-owned stores in Buffalo, not just the union vote in the few stores where it has the most support. The company said it is important to consider how employees move between stores as needed, and regardless of where they work, they need to have the same pay and work rules.

The union argued that they just wanted to downplay their support for the union.

“If we petition for the entire region, they will say that the vote should be for the entire state. If we petition for the entire state, they will say that the vote should be for the entire country,” said Richard Bensinger, the organizer of SEIU.

Starbucks said it does not oppose the efforts of unions, but it believes that the introduction of “third parties” such as unions is not in the best interests of its workers.

“You have the right to work directly with Starbucks-if you don’t want to give up this right, you should vote’no’,” Starbucks’ Peck wrote in her letter.

The young leaders working in the Buffalo organization are very confident.

“Inequality is getting worse. People are treated poorly in the workplace,” said 24-year-old William Westlake, who has worked at Starbucks for less than a year. “I don’t think Starbucks can turn the tide of organization.”

A recent Gallup poll showed that young workers strongly support unions. The poll found that 68% of respondents had a positive attitude towards unions-the best interpretation of this question dates back to 1965, compared to only 48% in 2009. This is far behind the 77% who are 34 and younger who have a positive attitude.

Amazon asks for another union vote

33-year-old Chris Smalls is the chairman of the Amazon Union, a newly formed independent union trying to organize Amazon’s four warehouses in Staten Island. Smalls was fired by Amazon last year, he said because he led a strike in the early stages of the pandemic to protest working conditions and safety agreements.

Amazon said he was fired for violating the company’s isolation and social distancing regulations after continuing to contact Amazon employees after contacting Covid patients.

Smalls said that in addition to salary and benefits requirements, he believes that the key issues in the voting will be quality of life issues, such as the need for longer rest periods.

Amazon responded to other companies’ statements that it believes it would be better for its employees to have no unions.

“Our employees can choose whether to join a union. They have always had it. As a company, we believe that a union is not the best choice for our employees,” said spokesperson Kelly Nanter. “The benefits of the direct relationship between managers and employees cannot be overemphasized-these relationships allow the voice of every employee to be heard, not just the voice of a few. In recent years, we have achieved success in important areas. Great progress, such as pay and safety. There are many things we can continue to do better, and this is our focus-getting better every day.”

Amazon, both at the beginning of the pandemic last year or during its organization in Alabama, insisted that it was listening to workers’ comments on working conditions and doing everything it could to protect them from Covid.

“Every day, we enable people to find ways to improve their jobs, and when they do, we want to make changes quickly,” Nantel said. “In the middle union, this type of continuous improvement is more difficult to accomplish quickly and flexibly.”

Smalls said that independent unions are gaining more and more support among Staten Island workers, and he believes it will be more successful than the failed attempt in Alabama earlier this year, even if it does not have the efforts of union support. Deeper pockets.

“Everything is different,” he said. “This is New York, not Alabama. Our energies are different. This is completely dominated by workers.”

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