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Unionization pushes continue across Washington state

Saturday, organizers from across the country joined Seattle Starbucks workers in a rally at Capitol Hill.

SEATTLE — Organizers from across the nation joined Seattle-area Starbucks workers Saturday in a march and rally, where they shared stories of and strategies for unionization.

"We're hoping we can send that message to stores everywhere- not just to Starbucks, but for workers everywhere," Beto Sanchez said. "Big movements like these always just need a little push, with changes in history, sometimes people need something to fight for."

Meanwhile, other local unions and organizing efforts continue to make headlines. A union representing Verizon workers says an employee was fired for attempting to unionize the store after attending an event celebrating two successful votes to unionize. Verizon called the allegations false. 

On Friday, Alaska Airlines pilots announced plans to send a strike-authorization vote to pilots. It does not necessarily mean they plan to strike; it means union leaders are officially requesting the pilot group give them the authority to go on strike when legally permitted to do so if negotiations break down and the federal government authorizes a walkout after the parties exhaust the required procedures of the Railway Labor Act.

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Sarah Pappin works at the store near 5th and Pike, which she says is still waiting on a union vote. She says the Starbucks workers at Saturday's rally also stood in solidarity with other local union organizing efforts. 

"I don't think there's a surge in unions so much as there's a surge in understanding of what unionization does for the worker," Pappin said.

Organizers hope seeing marches and rallies will encourage workers to think about what's possible within their own workplaces.

"I want everyone to know they have a voice and unions are the people who are hearing them," LaKota McGlawn said.

In a previous statement about unionization efforts, Starbucks noted:

We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. Starbucks success—past, present, and future—is built on how we partner together, always with Our Mission and Values at our core.  

Our belief is that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. Rossann Williams, evp and president, North America, has also shared with our partners that we respect their right to organize and will bargain in good faith.  

She also noted in a letter sent to all partners in December that “the vote outcomes will not change our shared purpose or how we will show up for each other.  We will keep listening, we will keep connecting and we will keep being in service of one another because that’s what we’ve always done and what it means to be partner."


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