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Congressman Sherrod Brown visits Starbucks workers seeking to unionize

Workers at Cleveland’s West 6th Street Store Could Become First Ohio Starbucks Employees Represented by a Union

CLEVELAND, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited the Starbucks location at 1374 West 6th Street in Cleveland to show support for the hourly workers who have petitioned to unionize.

Brown has long advocated for the dignity of work, and champions the rights of workers to organize. He met with store employees and proudly ordered his coffee “union strong” to show his support of their efforts to unionize.

“These Ohioans are doing what generations of workers have done in our state – banding together to advocate for themselves and have a voice on the job. All work has dignity – whether you punch a clock or swipe a badge, or you make coffee. You don’t have to wear a hard hat to start a union. There’s no reason a job at Starbucks should come with fewer rights and less of a career path than a manufacturing job,” said Brown. “Starbucks tries very hard to project an image of corporate responsibility – if they want to live up to their PR campaigns, they will allow their workers to organize.”

Last month, hourly employees at the Warehouse District store asked the National Labor Relations Board for a union vote. They also sent a letter to Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson stating they work on the front lines of the customer service industry and don’t feel like there are consistent guidelines or effective safety measures to protect them during the COVID-19 pandemic and “feel like cogs in a machine.”

Brown met with workers including Joseph Nappi, a Cleveland Starbucks employee and one of the leaders of the local union effort. He said that after seeing Starbucks employees successfully vote to unionize a store in Buffalo, New York, he realized his store in Cleveland could unionize too. He said that so far 18 of the 20 total store employees had signed union cards.

“Cleveland is known for its union history – we were a hub of the steel industry before the turn of the century and I think what we’re doing now will hopefully bring hope to workers not only in Cleveland but around the state of Ohio that they can do this that they have the right to unionize and have a seat at the table,” said Nappi.

Brown was also joined by AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Dan O’Malley, Darryll Bell, President of AFGE Local 31, and Mark Wilko, Ohio AFL-CIO Reporting Secretary with Workers United/CMRJB Local 10.

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