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Bloomington Starbucks becomes Indiana’s third union location with unanimous worker vote

By Adam Yahya Rayes, IPB News | Published on in Business, Economy, Politics, Statewide News
The Bloomington vote comes over a year after Indiana’s first union Starbucks became official. (Devan Ridgway/WTIU)

Indiana now has a third union Starbucks location. On Wednesday, 14 employees at a store in Bloomington unanimously voted to unionize.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, 26 workers could have been eligible to vote. It’s not clear why only 14 ballots were turned in.

This vote comes over a year after Indiana’s first union Starbucks became official. Workers at that Clarksville location still don’t have a contract. They allege the company refuses to fairly negotiate.

READ MORE: Starbucks employees in Clarksville join national weekend strike

In past statements, Starbucks denies those allegations and said the union, Workers United, is at fault for the hold up on contracts. Workers United represents workers at over 300 unionized stores across the United States, including the three in Indiana.

Stefanie Sharp works as a barista in the newly unionized Bloomington location. She’s spoken with union workers from stores like Clarksville and said she expects “stalled” negotiations too.

“I really do think that we are ready for the fight,” Sharp said in a June interview. “We do have each other’s backs at the end of the day because that’s what filing for a union is.”

Sharp and her co-workers announced their plans to unionize in late June. In a letter to the company’s CEO, the workers alleged the company asked them to “meet impossible expectations” despite “severely” cut hours and understaffing. They said the cuts affected their ability to make a living or qualify for benefits.

In a past statement about similar allegations coming from workers in Valparaiso, a spokesperson said the company provides workers opportunities to pick up extra hours at their stores and others nearby. They also noted that part-time workers only need 240 hours every three months to meet eligibility requirements for health care and other benefits.

READ MORE: Valparaiso Starbucks workers vote to unionize, becomes second union location in Indiana

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Sharp said she hopes the successful push to unionize her location inspires others in Bloomington to do the same, the way Clarksville and others inspired her and her coworkers.

“College towns are kind of like tinder,” she said. “Once there’s a spark, it just goes up. So we’re very excited about that.”

The longstanding fight between Starbucks and Workers United has involved strikesallegations of illegal activitycourt orders and a congressional hearing. It’s not clear what it will take to get contracts in workers’ hands.

Adam is our labor and employment reporter. Contact him at arayes@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @arayesIPB.