Westerville Starbucks

This morning, workers at the Westerville Starbucks, 533 South State Street, petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union election to join the Starbucks Workers United movement that’s currently sweeping the country. The store is the second in Columbus behind four locations in Cleveland and one that filed this week in Cincinnati, becoming the seventh in Ohio and pushing well over 200 nationwide.

Workers at the Westerville Starbucks wrote a letter to Starbucks CEO saying that “the company has now deemed it too expensive to provide adequate coverage for us to properly serve the community we love,” echoing a sentiment streaming out from locations from across the nation.

So far, 16 stores have voted to unionize and over 200 await their election date with more filing each day. Starbucks has a total of 9,000 stores, so the momentum has sent the company scrambling. Starbucks CEO claimed that unions are “assaulting” corporations and they’ve launched a failing union busting campaign.

The Westerville Starbucks joins a larger wave of union efforts built up before the pandemic, but sparked by companies’ response, or a lack thereof, to COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1,300 strikes have taken place and the country’s largest companies have seen successful unionization efforts for the first time, including the first Amazon location to unionize. The organizers at the Staten Island Amazon warehouse claim that more than 50 locations have reached out for assistance in organizing their workers.

But these grassroots union wins have been against all odds with both Amazon and Starbucks launching multi-million dollar union busting campaigns. Starbucks has started to illegally fire union organizers at specific locations, while workers at the downtown Columbus location have already seen their hours severely cut in retaliation for the union drive. Some workers rely on a solidarity fund to get by. But Amazon’s firing of organizers backfired. One of the fired employees, Chris Smalls, went on to lead the successful union drive.

In support of the Westerville Starbucks, Workers United International Vice President Kathy Hanshew voiced that “It is time for Starbucks to do the right thing, acknowledge the voice of their partners, and allow their workers to unionize without interference.”


Taylor Dorrell is a contributing writer at Cleveland Review of Books, a reporter at the Columbus Free Press, a contributor to People’s World, and a member of the National Writers Union. You can see the rest of his work on his website: