West Hartford, CT

Vernon Starbucks May Follow West Hartford with Vote to Unionize, As Union Popularity Grows

Connecticut by the Numbers

It may be back to the future for union membership in the U.S., and a glimpse of what’s happening in Connecticut may reflect a generational change.  Although overall union membership in the U.S. “stands at its lowest percentage in roughly a century,” according to The New York Times, that trend may be reversing.

A West Hartford Starbucks café has become the first unionized Starbucks store in Connecticut, as workers at the Corbins Corner location announced a 13-3 employees vote in favor of the union, in early June.  They will be represented by Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, according to published reports, in negotiating working conditions and benefits with Starbucks. 

Photo: Connecticut AFL-CIO Facebook page.

The vote came as approximately 150 of Starbucks' 9,000 company-run locations across the country have voted to unionize, The New York Times reported recently, noting that more than 275 stores petitioned to the National Labor Relations Board to hold union votes since late last year.

Back in December of 2021, a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, was the nation's first Starbucks in decades to unionize. Soon thereafter, in February 2022, the Connecticut AFL-CIO Facebook page asked “Are you a Starbucks barista in CT? Reach out to SBWorkersUnited and learn how you can have a voice on the job, build power & improve your workplace.” 

More recently, in May, Starbucks workers in Vernon stated their intent to unionize, according to published reports.  Weeks later, the West Hartford location workers announced their vote to unionize.  Back in Vernon, an employee vote is planned for later this month, on July 14, on whether or not to unionize, the Journal Inquirer reported this week.

According to Gallup, approval of unions among college graduates grew from 55 percent in the late 1990s to 70 percent last year, the Times reported last month, with younger, coming-of-age employees driving the change.  The Times also noted that “the union continues to win elections – over 80 percent of the more than 175 votes in which the (National Labor Relations Board) has declared a winner.”

Connecticut reportedly has more than 120 Starbucks locations.  

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