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Twin Falls Starbucks employees join nationwide push to unionize

Green and white Starbucks union pins are in a plastic bag on top of sheets of paper.
Joshua Bessex
The Associated Press
Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for Starbucks' employees union election, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y.

Starbucks employees in Twin Falls are looking to make their store the first in Idaho to join a nationwide push to unionize.

Baristas and shift leads at the Bridgeview Boulevard Starbucks—which sits right at the entrance to the city next to the Perrine Bridge—announced plans to unionize this weekend.

Taylor Carnell, 18, is one of the organizers. He started at Starbucks last year and said he began thinking about joining the nationwide movement a few months ago.

Since a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York, voted to unionize in December, about 30 more have joined them, with more than 200 locations filing to hold their own votes. 

Carnell said the momentum shows employees want the chance to negotiate collectively for living wages. He said he was hired as a barista at $10 an hour and said the starting wage has since been bumped to $12.

“It’s not liveable—not in the state of Idaho, with how housing prices are looking, with how gas is looking.”

He also said, more recently, management has implemented “unrealistic” quotas, in which employees have to deliver drinks and food to customers at the drive-through window within 40 seconds while taking other orders.

Outside of managers, there are about 28 employees at this Starbucks location, according to Carnell.

“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country,” a statement from a Starbucks spokesperson said. “From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. We respect our partner’s right to organize and are committed to following the NLRB process.”

Fewer than 5% of workers are represented by unions in Idaho, which has the 6th-lowest share of its workers in that category out of all states.

Jac Davelaar, also 18, is another organizer and said she learned about unions very recently.

“I think it’s been a great thing that I’ve been introduced to, and I’m extremely passionate about it now,” she said.

Employees say they have the minimum number of union cards signed for organizing and plan on filing under Workers United in a few weeks. That means they could hold a vote on whether to unionize within a few months.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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