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Baltimore Starbucks Becomes First In MD To Unionize

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Workers at a Baltimore Starbucks have voted to unionize, becoming the first Maryland location of the chain to join the nationwide collective bargaining movement at the company's coffee shops.

A Twitter account for the growing effort, SBWorkersUnited, said the employees at the Starbucks location at 1209 N. Charles St., in the Mid-Town Belvedere neighborhood, unanimously voted to unionize.

Tom Perez, a former Maryland and U.S. Labor Secretary who is running for governor, was on hand for the vote and congratulated workers on the 14-0 election.

Workers at the N. Charles Street location filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board on Jan. 20. In a letter to Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson five days prior, employees said they were making less than a living wage while dealing with "abuse from customers, malfunctioning equipment, unsafe working conditions, chronic understaffing, and a complete lack of agency within our workplace."

The staff, which is majority LGBTQ+, does not receive proper support beyond the company's trans-inclusive healthcare plan, they wrote.

"Despite its attractiveness to queer folk, Starbucks employs minimal methods on a store-level to provide adequate on-the-ground protection for its LGBTQ+ partners," they said.

According to a March decision from the NLRB establishing the parameters for an election, there are 22 full-time and regular part-time baristas, shift supervisors, and assistant store managers at the location.

Starbucks workers at a store in Buffalo, N.Y., became the first in the US to unionize last December, approving the motion by a 19-8 vote.

Prior to that, the company announced in October it was increasing wages for all employees, reaching an average pay of nearly $17 per hour by Summer 2022.

But as CBS Sunday Morning recently reported, more than 200 stores have followed Buffalo's lead and petitioned to vote.

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