Downtown Disney Starbucks joins growing union movement

Starbucks workers at two stores in Anaheim are joining fellow employees across the country in organizing a union. 

According to a press release, the Downtown Disney store, located on Disneyland property, and the Katella and Anaheim store, located across the street from the park, both filed petitions to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking union representation.

The Downtown Disney store marks the first Starbucks store on Disney property to file for a union election.

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"We are unionizing to take an active role in our partnership. We should not be a corporate resource to produce profit while they cut our hours to reduce their spending," said Sean Lally, a worker at the Downtown Disney store. "We challenge Starbucks to live up to its values and be the company it promises to be."

The organizing committee at the Katella and Anaheim store issued the following statement:" Our partners are dedicated to creating a safe and positive third place for our community and would like to feel valued. We ‘partners’ inspire and nurture the human spirit in our community at the cost of our physical, mental, and financial well-being. Our union will be organized by us, the partners, not a ‘third party,’ like Starbucks claims. We love our community and love the third place we have created. We believe that by organizing we will finally have true equality in the workplace. For that reason, we are demanding recognition of our union and the partners."

Both stores sent letters to Howard Schultz, Starbucks Interim CEO, asking that Starbucks respect the right of workers to organize, and refrain from intimidating, threatening, and using other union-busting tactics. 

Union membership levels are rising for U.S. workers between 25 and 34 years old, even as they decline among other age groups, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Starbucks in Mesa, Arizona was the first to unionize outside of Buffalo, New York, where organizing efforts first took off.

Over 65 stores in 20 states have filed petitions with the labor board to hold union elections since two in Buffalo unionized in the last few months, according to labor union Workers United.

Starbucks officials have spoken against unionizing, asserting the company functions best when it can work directly with its employees. Some workers have disputed that claim.

Efforts to form unions have led to tense conflict. Earlier this month, seven Starbucks workers were fired after spearheading a union campaign in Memphis, Tennessee. The company said they violated policy by reopening a store after closing time, inviting non-employees inside and doing TV interviews from there.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.