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Starbucks workers in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset move to unionize

The Starbucks Coffee at 744 Irving St. at 9th Avenue in San Francisco | Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

A Starbucks in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood has filed paperwork to form a union, setting the stage for the store to become the second city outpost of the international coffee brand to formally organize.

Workers at the store, located at 744 Irving St., filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday to join Starbucks Workers United, a national organization representing baristas with the cafe chain, according to a statement from the Service Employees International Union.

If the workers win a forthcoming unionization vote, their store will become one of two Starbucks locations in San Francisco to enter the fold of Starbucks Workers United.

The city’s other unionized Starbucks, located in the Castro District, became a part of Starbucks Workers United last August after a successful union drive.

“We as workers are making all the money for these billion-dollar companies, and we’re not seeing any of it,” Atakan Deviren, a barista at the Irving Street store said in a press release issued by SEIU Local 1021, which represents service workers throughout Northern California.

The Standard visited the Irving Street store Wednesday seeking comment, but baristas there said they could not speak about the unionization effort while at work.

A spokesperson for Starbucks defended the company’s treatment of its employees—pointing to a national wage floor of $15 per hour, medical benefits packages for eligible employees and tuition reimbursement programs—and said the company supports the right of its employees to make their own decisions about union representation.

“We are committed to engaging in good faith collective bargaining for each store where a union has been appropriately certified,” the spokesperson said.

The Starbucks location in the Castro at 4094 18th St. voted to form a union on Aug. 16, 2022, becoming the first location in San Francisco to do so successfully. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Tensions have been ratcheting up between Starbucks and Starbucks Workers United recently. Workers at the Castro location went on strike on June 25, at the height of San Francisco Pride celebrations on what was expected to be one of the store's busiest days of the year. Employees alleged that Starbucks had engaged in union-busting tactics and that certain stores barred staff from displaying Pride decorations meant to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

Representatives from Starbucks denied the allegations about prohibitions on Pride decor and said the company respects its employees' right to “engage in lawful union activities.”