FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Workers at the Starbucks location on Wedington in Fayetteville became the first in the state to win their union election, according to a statement.
On Monday, Nov. 14, the location also became the 261st store in the country to vote in favor of unionizing. In October, the store was the first in the state to petition an election.
Out of 20 employees, 11 voted to unionize, representing the majority of the votes.
“This is an important step toward our goal of fair representation in the workplace. We are fighting for a true partnership between the baristas and the company. We hope that Starbucks will come to the bargaining table and hear what we have to say,” said Dylan Hartsfield, a shift supervisor at the store.
Last month, the workers began the process of unionizing after filing for a union election. At the time, they told 5NEWS that fair pay and fair hours were factors in why they wanted to unionize, but workers are also seeking better rights and protections for employees of color and LGBTQ workers.
“'Acting with courage, challenging the status quo, and finding new ways to grow our company and each other,' as stated in the Starbucks Missions and Values, is exactly what we have achieved today. We sigh a breath of relief knowing that our voices have been heard and that we can move forward together, truly, as partners,” said Justin Bean, a barista trainer at the store.
The National Labor Relations Board conducted the election on Nov. 14 from 9:30 to 5 p.m. Out of the 21 employees total, 20 voted.
"This was really setting the ground for the next generation of workers at the store," Hartsfield said.
He has worked at several Starbucks locations around the state for about two years.
"I've worked in Russellville, Farmington, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville," Hartsfield. "I think I've worked at like 16 stores overall."
He says that experience at a job he loves showed him firsthand the need to hold the company accountable.
"A lot of people are looking for stability with our schedules," Hartsfield said.
One of the employees he is talking about is Sienna Contreras. She started about six months ago at the Wedington location.
"Something I would like to see is more consistent hours," Contreras.
Hartsfield said the schedules at the store can fluctuate in any given week, making it difficult for people who rely on consistent paychecks working full time.
"We're also looking for raises, protections for LGBTQ partners, protections for partners of color," Hartsfield said.
Hartsfield believes this won't only benefit employees, but also customers.
"We'll try to get our drinks out faster because we have enough staff and people will just be in better spirits," he said.
In a statement to 5NEWS, Starbucks wrote in part "At Starbucks, we respect our partners’ right to organize but believe that working directly, side-by-side, without a third-party, is the best way to continue to elevate the partner experience at Starbucks.
That said, where partners choose to be represented by a union, we respect that choice. We are committed to bargaining in good faith, and hope the union does the same.
We will continue to make decisions grounded by our Mission and Values and aligned with labor and employment laws."
Hartsfield says the next step is a meeting between employees, Starbucks representatives and union representatives.
"So, we will work with our union representatives to sit down at the table with Starbucks representatives and come to an agreement in the front of the contract to negotiate," Hartsfield said.
He says employees will not have to pay anything until a contract is reached. So far, none of the unionized Starbucks have reached a contract with the company.
As of now, there's no set date timeline for when the union representatives and Starbucks representatives will meet. However, Hartsfield tells 5NEWS they may meet in around six months.
We will update this article with more information as it becomes available.
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