Starbucks workers at Amos Hall petition to unionize


TPN File Photo

Starbucks at Amos Hall.

By Punya Bhasin, Assistant News Editor

Workers at Starbucks at Amos Hall are formally petitioning to unionize, according to a letter released Friday. This is the second Starbucks in Pittsburgh to petition to unionize since two Starbucks locations in Buffalo, New York won their union elections in December. 

Amos Hall Starbucks workers are joining their fellow Pittsburgh Starbucks location at 4765 Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, which petitioned to unionize in February. In a letter addressed to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, the Amos Hall organizing committee said almost 60 people work at the location — a majority who are college students or recent graduates who rely on their wages to pay rent and tuition. 

Employees at the Oakland Starbucks are looking to join Workers United, which represents 80,000 members in North America in the hospitality, manufacturing, apparel and textile industries, among others. Workers United is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

The letter said while employees take pride in working at Starbucks and have found life-long friends at the store, working conditions the past few weeks “demolished our work ethic, destroying any essence of a third place.” 

“We strongly feel as though corporate is not listening to us: they are cutting hours, failing to deal with concerns regarding upper management, and leaving us incredibly understaffed while we are facing unparalleled customer wait times,” the letter said.

It also said a reason for the unionization effort was to honor Pittsburgh’s history of labor rights movement. 

“Pittsburgh has a long standing history of being the epicenter of the labor rights movement. We hope to honor our city’s history by speaking up for what we believe is best for all parties involved,” it said.

According to the Pennsylvania Joint Board, roughly 100 Starbucks locations in the U.S. have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to hold a union election out of the approximately 9,000 corporate-owned Starbucks locations in the country. 

Starbucks Workers United, the national union organizing group for Starbucks workers, has accused the coffee chain of conducting an “outrageous anti-union campaign,” including threatening to shut down all stores in Buffalo, N.Y.

A Starbucks corporate spokeswoman said the company respect’s their employees’ right to organize. 

“These claims are false,” a corporate spokeswoman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Friday. “We fully respect our partners right to organize and will continue to adhere to the NLRB’s process, as we’ve done from the beginning.”