Biddeford Starbucks store becomes first in Maine to announce labor campaign

Workers at a Starbucks store in Biddeford announced their intention to unionize Friday, becoming the first Maine store to do so as employees at dozens of Starbucks stores across the country have sought to unionize.

Six Biddeford employees publicly signed a letter addressed to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and filed an electoral petition with the National Labor Relations Council Friday announcing their intention to unionize with Workers United, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union.

Workers United quickly moved to organize dozens of Starbucks stores across the United States since last fall, when a Buffalo, New York, coffee became the first succeed in unionizing.

Biddeford employees cited the pandemic, insufficient staffing, overwork, low wages and “unrealistic expectations” as their impetus to unionize.

“Through unionization, we hope to rebuild the company that once valued us as partners,” reads the letter to Schultz. “We are the face of Starbucks. We deserve a place at the table and to have our voices heard and dignified.

Starbucks, the coffee conglomerate that started in Seattle, has efforts criticized to unionize its stores. The National Labor Relations Council accused the company reprisals and illegal dismissal of union organizers.

Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Maine AFL-CIO, which is not directly involved in the Starbucks organizing effort, said this is an exciting development not only for Starbucks workers, but for all workers in Maine.

“Hard-working Starbucks employees deserve the right to negotiate better wages and benefits and to have a seat at the management decision-making table,” said communications director Andy O’Brien.