A Major Starbucks Union Win Has Happened In Houston

The Starbucks unionization struggle continues to rage on and, lately, it's been an eventful trip. Earlier this week, the longest-running Starbucks strike in history (64 days straight) came to a victorious end for union employees in Boston, via Boston.com. Last month at the Buffalo, N.Y. store where the unionization movement began, Starbucks employees energized the movement by executing a powerful walk-out, via Today. Then, a few weeks ago, the coffee giant announced a new program to help employees with student debt — but only if they're not in a union, via Reuters. Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner even chimed in on Twitter to call Starbucks out for the move, saying, "No reason to not extend this to union members, too."

Now, over 200 Starbucks locations across 33 states have unionized, via Chron. But this week, Houston, Texas got its first unioned store. Per an official announcement released via Twitter from The Starbucks Workers Union of Houston (SBWU Houston, on September 22, employees at the Shepherd & Harold Starbucks in the Houston suburb of Montrose " ... became the first Starbucks store in the city to win their union election." Employees voted 11-3 to unionize, making the Montrose store one of just 12 stores in Texas to file for unionization and only the ninth store to achieve it.

Montrose baristas demand better

Per the announcement, Starbucks previously fired tenured barista Josh DeLeon from the Montrose store for pro-union activities. In August to the Liberation News, DeLeon painted a picture of his former workplace environment as having overworked employees, understaffed stores, and a general lack of communication. "I don't think our experience is unique within the company," DeLeon said. "It's definitely something that lots of stores feel, even if they haven't petitioned yet." In October 2021, baristas at three different Buffalo, N.Y. locations first petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to unionize. Per Forbes, Michael Sanabria, an award-winning veteran barista and four-year Buffalo Starbucks employee, said workers wanted " ... A voice in some of the decisions... [Corporate] said that they were here to listen, and [they're] not listening."

This week, though, SBWU Houston took to Twitter to announce the win. "GUYS WE DID IT. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WE ARE SPEECHLESS." Harris County judge Linda Hidalgo Tweeted her congratulations, writing, "Harris County is always stronger when workers have a seat at the table." Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation Executive Director Hany Khalil similarly commented, "This isn't just a win for the Starbucks workers — this is a win for all Houston workers fighting for a better life" (via Houston Public Media). Judging by recent elections, Starbucks employees have a more than 80% chance of winning their union votes.