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Starbucks coffee shops unionize in Langley, Surrey

The barristas at two coffee shops in Clayton Heights and Langley City are joining the Steelworkers
A Langley Starbucks is one of two on Fraser Highway that have unionized in the last month. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

A Langley Starbucks has unionized, its 25 baristas becoming members of the United Steelworkers local 2009, the union announced on Thursday, July 7.

The Valley Centre Starbucks, in the 20100 block of Fraser Highway, will be the first outlet of the coffee chain to unionize in Langley. It joins the Clayton Crossing Starbucks in Surrey, which received certification from the Labour Relations Board (LRB) for its unionization in June.

The two locations will be treated as one bargaining unit, the LRB confirmed.

One of the core organizers at the Langley location, Sarah Anderson, said that security concerns were part of the reason the local baristas started to organize.

She said the union bonded together to fight for benefits, and that they had health and safety issues during the COVID-19 pandemic that the company had not fully addressed.

“Next will be bargaining,” Anderson said.

She said they don’t plan to rush through that process, as they want to make sure they get a good contract for the employees. The workers at the Langley and Clayton Heights location will be talking about priorities.

“There’s a really big push on our end for seniority recognition,” said Anderson.

Workers at Starbucks to get benefits, she said, but there’s no advantage to working there for years compared to being a new hire.

The union was organized by having more than 55 per cent of workers there sign a union card. Under new single-step certification rules put in place by the provincial government last year, no vote is necessary if at least that many staffers sign up.

READ MORE: B.C. moves to drop employee vote from union certification drives

READ MORE: B.C. unions expect membership gains from Labour Code changes

Although there have been a few unionized Starbucks locations in Canada over the years, none of the workers in company-owned stores belonged to a union until last year. In the summer of 2021, a Victoria store became the first corporate-owned Starbucks to successfully unionize, with the USW.

Multiple other Starbucks locations across North America have unionized since then, with most of the U.S. locations organizing with Starbucks Workers United. One count put the number of unionized locations at more than 100 stores.

“The Valley Centre baristas are joining the growing number of Starbucks workers across North America who are organizing for better working conditions and wages. We look forward to continuing to assist these workers who are coming together to be heard and win the respect they deserve from Starbucks.”

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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