WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Starbucks employees from the store at the intersection of 21st Street and Amidon filed paperwork to begin the process of becoming the first Starbucks in Wichita to unionize.
The paperwork was filed by Esau Freeman, a business representative for Service Employees International Union Local 513.
Along with the paperwork filed was a letter addressed to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, in which six named employees and “thirteen more partners” cited their reasoning for wanting to unionize. Specifically, they cited erratic schedules and wage issues.
“Instead of working 7 to 8 hour shifts for less days per week, we are forced to come in more days per week to work shorter shifts than that of the average American food service industry standard,” the letter says.
In addition, the employees claim their shifts are typically scheduled to be 5.75 hours long, which only gives them one paid ten-minute break. If the shift is over six hours, the letter says, they are required to take a 30-minute lunch break and are given two paid 10-minute breaks.
The employees also accused their store manager of threatening their wages and benefits if they moved forward with unionization, which they claim is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.
KSN reached out to the Starbucks location for a statement from the manager but was told they were out of town. A spokesperson with Starbucks corporate gave this statement:
“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. We respect our partner’s right to organize and are committed to following the NLRB process.”Starbucks Corporate
The Starbucks location, while the first in the Wichita area, is not the first location to start the unionizing process. NPR reported on May 3 that more than 230 Starbucks stores have filed petitions for union elections, and about 50 stores have voted to join the national union Workers United since December.
Now that the paperwork has been sent in, the next step in the process for the employees is a vote, because a majority of the store’s 26 employees signed the petition. If the vote passes, the location will be the first unionized Starbucks in Wichita.