Editorial | The Amos Hall Starbucks unionization is a great step forward


TPN File Photo

Starbucks at Amos Hall on Forbes Avenue.

The Starbucks located in Amos Hall on campus petitioned to unionize on March 4 following concerns about understaffing, hours being cut unfairly and unresponsive upper management. The Starbucks is the second location in Pittsburgh to petition to unionize and is among the 130 stores in 26 states that have petitioned to unionize.

Pittsburgh is a union town with a long history of fighting for equal labor rights. Recently, UPMC employees began efforts to unionize and the Pitt faculty successfully unionized. It’s important to note the bravery of those who have begun to fight for their labor rights — especially against big corporations.

Many of those who have voted to unionize at the Starbucks store in Amos are student workers, and it’s a great thing to see college students getting involved in their labor rights. Some may feel that because they are young, they don’t get a say in what can and cannot happen to them while at work. Getting involved in unionizing early is important for the rest of our lives, so it’s important to start advocating for better working conditions early.

Many young people also feel like they don’t have a choice when it comes to jobs. Pressure to find employment is extremely urgent, especially when circumstances such as work-study financial aid programs make finding a job connected to the funding of your college education necessary. Because of this, many may feel like they can’t point out issues with their management or other issues that make their job harder.

By unionizing, these workers are able to air grievances without fear of retaliation. It also provides them with valuable learning experiences on calling out issues for their future workplaces, such as Amazon, Google or Apple. Learning the importance of collective bargaining by age 18 is an invaluable lesson you can’t learn elsewhere.

The recent uptick in unions and labor rights activism seems to be increasingly led by young workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated already existing labor issues for young people, making unionization an important way to collectively bargain for this overworked and underpaid generation. Learning early to not tolerate poor working conditions, but instead to fight against them, is an extremely important skill for the rest of one’s life.

Having young workers fight for their rights also hints at a potential future in which labor rights are prioritized by corporations. As more and more people stand up against labor issues earlier, we can create a future in which the worker is respected and paid well from the beginning.

We hope that the student workers at the Starbucks store realize how brave and important their union efforts are and how inspiring they can be to the other student workers on campus.