People in Starbucks

Ohio Democrat and US Senator Sherrod Brown recently paid a visit to the downtown Starbucks that will soon vote to unionize.

The 88 East Broad Street Starbucks will vote on unionizing May 24th. Community members and Congressman Sherrod Brown have shown their support for the union drive as their management retaliates with an anti-union campaign and cutting hours.

“Even if other anti-union tactics are going to be played out, it’s so much more helpful to have that end goal in mind,” Ben Baldwin, an employee at this downtown Starbucks, said in response to getting a date for the union election from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Since the union drive began, Starbucks has launched its anti-union efforts at the location by cutting hours, conducting one-on-one anti-union meetings, and bringing in managers to sit in the cafe throughout the day.

Employees have noticed a large cut in hours since the union drive started, saying that they’re lower than during the lockdown even though business has increased, leaving some desperate to make ends meet. “We have people who can’t feed themselves,” said Jesse Perry, a worker at the location, “they want to punish us.”

“The hour cuts have been an issue nationwide,” Baldwin said. He’s worked for Starbucks for a decade and says he’s never seen hours cut to this degree. “Every Starbucks that has filed [to unionize], to my knowledge, has seen hours cut.”

A solidarity fund was started to help the struggling workers; almost $5,000 has been raised so far, organized by a group of “supportive community members.”

Workers at the Starbucks say it’s the community support that has helped them get through the anti-union efforts, one of their recent visitors being Congressional representative Sherrod Brown.

“We’ve gone all this time throughout the pandemic feeling really unappreciated,” Perry said, “so having absolute random strangers come in and tell us how good we’re doing when our management just wants to belittle us, it means a lot.”

At the national level, new Starbucks are continuing to unionize every day. So far, 13 have voted ‘yes’ and only one has voted ‘no’ as more than 150 await their election date.

The company has come out vocally against the union wave, even firing organizers. Interim CEO Howard Schultz recently claimed unions are “assaulting” companies. In the same speech he announced Starbucks would get into the NFT business or “Non-Fungible Tokens,” although he didn’t specify what that entailed. 

Employees at the 88 E Broad location are optimistic about the upcoming vote, observing that anti-union tactics have only reinforced the consensus that they need a union.

“I don’t think that the higher ups recognize that having better working conditions and having more people want to work for them if they pay better with better benefits helps the company,” Perry said. “The whole point [of the union] is to uplift people, not tear people down.”


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: