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?

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:

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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.

June 13, 2022
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