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New Orleans: St. Claude Starbucks workers file for union

By staff

Starbucks workers gather to support unionizing. | Fight Back! News/staff

New Orleans, LA – On January 11, with 90% support, workers at Starbucks on St. Claude filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. The store is located near the French Quarter and serves some tourists and locals.

“How I see it, unionizing my store will allow not only myself, but also my fellow partners to join together and create the ideal workspace for all of us. We've all decided the best way for us to see promising results is to take action into our hands and handle the situation ourselves,” said Julian Missy, an organizer and worker at the store for over a year.

The St. Claude location deals with some of the highest cases of safety incidents of any Starbucks location in New Orleans. Baristas have often had to work through verbal and physical harassment, with one barista even saying that she was forced to open after seeing someone die in the parking lot.

“Unionizing our store means a lot of different things – for me personally it means safety and community. We the partners deserve to feel safe and secure in our work environment. Without this security, we limit our potential and ability to fully communicate to our customers,” said Alyena Wagner, an organizer and worker at St. Claude.

Workers made clear that feeling unsafe at work has affected their lives outside of the workplace.

“When I’m forced to smile while customers yell and threaten me daily, that makes it harder to sleep before shifts, or to not feel anxious and exhausted during the day. Unionizing at our shop is a good idea because there is no profit incentive for Starbucks to care about our safety or wellbeing without us making them. We’re ready to fight to make sure workers at our store can prosper while working there,“ said Abbey Lodwig, another organizer at St. Claude.

If workers there vote to unionize, that will mark the third Starbucks in New Orleans to do so. Considering the location’s high tourist volume, the filing is important for the city’s hospitality industry as well.

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