In a bid to fight back against what they deem unfair working conditions exacerbated by the pandemic, workers at the Douglas Street drive-thru Starbucks location have voted to unionize.
The announcement came via a press release on Wednesday August 19.
“We’re sick of being paid minimum wage to work for a multi-billion-dollar company, being understaffed during a global pandemic, and we don’t like decisions that directly affect our safety being made without us,” said a Victoria Starbucks worker in the statement.
“We’re working much harder to keep ourselves and our customers safe, and we deserve better from Starbucks.
In an interview with Victoria Buzz, Douglas St Starbucks employee Dylyn Wilkinson (xe/xem) spoke on the recent decision.
“Personally I’m thrilled because the conditions in that store especially were just absolutely destroying me, mentally and physically, even before the pandemic was a huge concern,” xe revealed.
Another employee from the Starbucks Saanich Centre location, who opted to remain anonymous, told Victoria Buzz that “coming back to work at Starbucks after [the pandemic] was an impossible task.”
“The major lack of communication was only a small piece of a larger puzzle. There were little to no hours available for anyone but Starbucks was unwilling to lay off struggling baristas.”
This move made it impossible for baristas to apply for CERB.
“There was a huge refusal to staff stores in a way that would give baristas the confidence to abide with COVID-19 health and safety protocols,” they continued,
“It left all the partners I came in contact with feeling hopeless and more overworked than usual.”
In the statement, USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt said that it takes courage for employees to organize like this, let alone during a pandemic.
“I want to thank the Starbucks workers for reaching out to each other and our union,” he said.
Victoria Buzz reached out to the management at the Starbucks on Douglas S, who declined to provide a comment.
The United Steelworkers District 3 represents over 50,000 workers in Western Canada and the Territories.