Astoria Boulevard Starbucks workers unionize after unanimous vote

Astoria Boulevard Starbucks unionizes
State Senator Michael Gianaris stands in solidarity with workers at an Astoria Starbucks who announced they are organizing to form a union. (Photo courtesy of Gianaris’ office)

After a unanimous vote, the Astoria Boulevard Starbucks joined Workers United — making it the first Queens location to unionize as of Monday, June 6. 

Eleven employees at the location on the corner of Astoria Boulevard and 31st Street agreed to join Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, which represents about 2 million members in various fields. 

Brandi Alduk, an employee at the Astoria Boulevard Starbucks, said that though this doesn’t finalize anything, it is a significant step in negotiating terms with the corporation. The Astoria Boulevard location first petitioned to take a union vote in March, after deciding they all suffered from low wages, skeleton staffing and minimal training. 

“We don’t make enough to live in the city we work in,” Alduk said. “You also really feel the burden of one person calling out, which really shouldn’t be the case.”

Alduk and her colleagues sent in mail-in ballots to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct a vote. Since the vote passed this week, the location will now have a union representative and be able to start bargaining their terms of employment with Starbucks.

“We definitely want an increase in wages, better health insurance plan, better training, better staffing,” Alduk said, as well as “more time for cleaning and generally how the store is run.”

Starbucks workers rallied outside of the MoMA yesterday, June 7, as Mellody Hobson, chairwoman of Starbucks, received a philanthropy award inside.

A Starbucks in Buffalo kicked off the unionization effort that now spreads across over 38 states last December; now 135 stores have petitioned to unionize. The Astoria Boulevard location was the most recent store out of 87 to successfully vote to unionize. 

The Starbucks on Ditmars Boulevard and 31st is also in the midst of unionizing, having signed petitions in April. The Ditmars Starbucks employees sent in ballots to NLRB and expect to hear results in the coming weeks. 

Local elected officials like state Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris came out in support of the local efforts to unionize.

“Congratulations to the Astoria Boulevard Starbucks workers on exercising their right to organize and join a union,” Gianaris said. “Organized labor is the foundation for a strong working class, which we need now more than ever. Here’s hoping their example shines a light for others to follow.”

Early in the local effort to unionize, Gianaris signed a letter alongside other local elected officials demanding Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz agree to fair election principles.

Other electeds in the area like Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán and Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani also approved of the efforts to unionize. Alduk said that she thinks the local support will strengthen them in their fight for better wages and work conditions.

“I think it helps protect our store to show that we have the local political unit on our side,” Alduk said. “It’s not just the local politicians as well, it’s the local community as well who have come out to support us at rallies.”

On Friday, June 10, Astoria Starbucks workers will be holding a celebratory rally at Ralph Demarco Park on Shore Boulevard between Ditmars Boulevard and 20th Avenue.

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