June 13, 2022
SHARE
CANADALAND
#788 The Baristas Vs. Starbucks
A wave of retail and service sector workers are unionizing their workplaces, pushing back against anti-union practices. Why is this happening now? And can workers win in the long run?
Jesse Brown
Host & Publisher
Cherise Seucharan
Reporter, CANADALAND
Tristan Capacchione
Audio Editor & Technical Producer
Sarah Lawrynuik
Senior Producer
Kieran Oudshoorn
Managing Editor, Podcasts
Jonathan Goldsbie
News Editor
Cassidy Villebrun-Buracas
Associate Producer

Of the more than 1,400 Starbucks stores in Canada, only a single location in Victoria, B.C. has a union. One former barista spoke to Canadaland about the working conditions that led baristas to organize for better protections – and how the flurry of anti-union messaging from Starbucks HQ was still not enough to deter the workers.

But companies across Canada and the U.S. have been employing these types of tactics for decades to prevent their workers from unionizing: including persistent messaging, hiring third-party crisis management firms, and even shuttering stores completely.

Do these new unionized workers stand a chance? Cherise Seucharan reports.

Featured in this episode: Izzy Adachi, former Starbucks worker; Pablo Guerra, organizer with United Steelworkers; Mitch Thompson, journalist; David J. Doorey, professor of labour law at York University

Further reading:

Support Canadaland at canadaland.com/join

Sponsors: oxio, Shopify

Additional Music is by Audio Network

Correction: An earlier version of this episode incorrectly identified the Victoria Starbucks location as the first location in Canada to unionize. While it is currently the only location that is unionized, there were a number of stores that unionized in the ‘90s and 2000s. These locations are no longer unionized for a number of different reasons.

More from this series
The Chinese state has infiltrated Canadian democracy at all levels, according to a bombshell report from investigative reporter Sam Cooper of Global News. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued a stern denial, throwing cold water on the story. Who's telling the truth? And exactly what is Beijing up to in Canada? Sam Cooper explains his work. 
January 30, 2023
CANADALAND has obtained thousands and thousands of pages of internal documents that take us behind the scenes of that investigation that once caught the attention of the nation, before being dropped like a hot potato.
January 23, 2023
Marc joins Jesse for a conversation about his plans to emigrate to Vancouver and the differences between Canada and the U.S. when it comes to fascism, comedy, and Jews. 
January 16, 2023
Kanye West, Dave Chappelle and Kyrie Irving have breathed new life into the antisemitic trope that Jews control the media. Is Jew-hatred from Black cultural icons more dangerous than the usual bigotry? And why is it so difficult for Jewish and Black communities to hear each other when it comes to racism? Emilie Nicolas joins Jesse to lay out a framework for better conversations.
January 9, 2023
Sarah Polley has come forward with memories of a violent sexual encounter with Jian Ghomeshi when she was 16. But why is the press tongue-tied about describing the alleged violence? Sarah sits down with Jesse to discuss how to safely run towards danger, and whether it’s even possible to ethically use child labour in the production of TV and film.
December 26, 2022
Stories of big news breaking when everyone else is on vacation.
December 19, 2022
The largest National Park in Canada is Wood Buffalo, currently celebrating its 100th anniversary. But the people who inhabited it for thousands of years before that want it back. Brandi Morin travels to Wood Buffalo (and to Fort MacMurray and to Fort Chipewyan) to tell the real story of the Dene, the Cree, and the land they were expelled from to make way for Wood Buffalo National Park. 
December 12, 2022
It’s the holidays, and on your TV or radio you’re inevitably hit with ads telling you that this is the season of giving - it’s time to donate to a food drive. Conservative politicians, Liberal politicians, banks, broadcasters, grocery stores: they all are united in this message. With the promotion of food banks from virtually every institution and elected official in the country, you might conclude that they are the best solution to food insecurity. Except - they’re not. Food bank use in Canada is at an all-time high, and experts, community organizers, even staff at food banks say that the growing need just shows how our government has failed to address poverty and hold corporations to account.
December 5, 2022
all podcasts arrow All Podcasts
CANADALAND