Starbucks allows employees who work at least 20 hours a week to get health coverage, which is more generous than most competitors, and said it would raise the average wage for hourly workers to nearly $17 an hour. ‘here this summer, far above the industry standard. The company also offers to pay tuition for employees admitted to pursue an online bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University, which helps it attract workers with college aspirations.
These people, in turn, tend to be sympathetic to labor unions and a variety of social activism. A recent Gallup poll found that people under 35 or liberals are significantly more likely than others to support unions.
Several Starbucks workers seeking to organize unions in Buffalo; Boston; Chicago; Seattle; Knoxville, TN; Tallahassee, Florida; and the Denver area seemed to fit that profile, saying they were either strong supporters of Mr. Sanders and other progressive politicians, whether they had attended college or both. Most were under 30 years old.
“I was involved in the political organizing, the Bernie Sanders campaign,” said Brick Zurek, a labor campaign manager at a Starbucks in Chicago. “It gave me a lot of talent.” Mx. Zurek, who uses gender-neutral courtesy titles and pronouns, also said they had a bachelor’s degree.
Len Harris, who helped run a campaign at a Starbucks near Denver, said “I admire the progressiveness, the sense of community” of politicians like Mr. Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York. She said she had graduated from college and was awaiting graduate admissions decisions.
And most union supporters took inspiration from their Buffalo colleagues. Sydney Durkin and Rachel Ybarra, who help organize a Starbucks in Seattle, said workers at their store discussed the Buffalo campaign almost daily as it unfolded and one of them contacted the union after the National Labor Relations Board announced the initial results of the Buffalo election in December. (The union’s second victory was announced on Monday, after the labor board resolved ballot challenges.)
Ms Ybarra said the victory showed workers that it was possible to organize despite company opposition. “The people of Buffalo have become superheroes,” she said. “Many of us spent so much time fearing retaliation – none of us could afford to lose our jobs, to have our hours cut.”