RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Five Starbucks stores in the Richmond area have become the first of the coffee chain’s locations in Virginia to unionize.
The Forest Hill Ave. location was the 21st store to join the union, and became the first Starbucks to unionize in Virginia since ballots from that location were counted first. Workers at the store voted 17-1 in favor of the union.
Four other area Starbucks followed suit, each in turn voting by overwhelming margins to form local units of Workers United, which is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union.
A second Starbucks location in Midlothian also voted in favor of the union, with a final count of 22-3.
The Starbucks on Huguenot Road followed suit and ran away with an 11-2 victory.
Rounding out the elections, the store at Westchester Commons approved unionization with a narrower 13-8 victory, and the store at Willow Lawn voted unanimously to approve unionization.
Ballots were mailed to workers at the five stores on March 29, and the votes were counted at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) office in Baltimore Tuesday, April 19.
The unionization drive has drawn national attention, and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), a strong supporter of labor rights, tweeted his support for the workers in Richmond, writing, “The movement of workers demanding dignity on the job wins again! Congratulations to Starbucks workers in Richmond on your vote to unionize!”
Sanders himself will make an appearance in Richmond on Sunday, April 23, at Unity Fest, an event being held in the National theater to “support and celebrate the organizing efforts of Starbucks workers locally and across the country.”
Organizers at Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) coordinated the national unionization campaign with the five Starbucks stores located in Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield.
Senator Tim Kaine visited two Richmond-area Starbucks stores on Feb. 23 in a show of support for workers there hoping to organize their workplaces as the first union Starbucks in Virginia.
The push for unionization comes in the wake of a successful union drive at a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York, which paved the way for a flood of union petitions across the country.