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Workers hope to create first unionized Starbucks in Hawaii

April 28, 2022 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Some workers in the Honolulu suburb of Mililani are aiming to create the first unionized Starbucks in Hawaii.

Organizer Nate Jaramillo is cautiously optimistic, Hawaii Public Radio reported Thursday. But staff at the Mililani Town Center Starbucks won’t know until next week whether they have the votes to unionize.

“People just want to get to the count already, so I have no reason to believe that, you know, the vote would turn out any other way than ‘yes,’ because I think that we have the majority,” Jaramillo said. “But I’m not going to assume that we’ve won.”

The final count is expected to be announced on Monday. Mail ballots were sent out two weeks ago.

Thirteen staff members are eligible to vote. Managers and shift supervisors aren’t allowed to cast ballots.

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In a statement, a Starbucks spokesperson wrote that the Seattle-based company is better together without a union, but will respect the rights of employees to organize, as required by the National Labor Relations Board.

The unionization effort began in January when the Town Center store was expected to close for about a week but was ultimately shut for three. Baristas and staff members were temporarily reassigned to nearby stores, and their hours were drastically cut.

At the same time, employees saw national news coverage about a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, where workers voted to form the first unionized store in the chain. Jaramillo reached out to the Starbucks Workers United union to learn more about how they got their start.