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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

After Workers At 2 Chicago Starbucks Move To Unionize, Alderman Calls On City To Put Pressure On Coffee Giant

Workers at Downtown and Logan Square Starbucks locations are asking for pay raises that rise with inflation, at-home COVID-19 tests, cheaper benefits and more training.

Starbucks workers and support gathered outside the location at
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LOGAN SQUARE — Pilsen Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) is calling on his City Council colleagues to support Starbucks workers’ efforts to unionize the chain’s Chicago coffee shops.

Sigcho-Lopez plans to introduce a formal resolution in support of the workers at the next City Council meeting Feb. 16. Sigcho-Lopez said the measure is backed by the Chicago Democratic Socialist Caucus and could put pressure on Starbucks to recognize a union.

The freshman alderman staged a press conference outside of the chain’s Logan Square location, 2543 N. California Ave., to rally support for the workers.

“We urge all our colleagues to be in support of the workers in Starbucks around the country,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “Dignified salaries are the way to support workers and support families across the country.”

Credit: Madison Savedra/ Block Club Chicago
Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez spoke at a press conference outside a Logan Square Starbucks.

Earlier this month, the California Avenue Logan Square Starbucks became the second location in the city where workers filed for union certification. Workers at a Downtown location, 155 N. Wabash Ave., were the first in the city, following coordinated efforts across the country that began in Buffalo, New York. 

Workers are asking for pay raises that rise with inflation, at-home COVID-19 tests, cheaper benefits and improved training.

Fernando Vargas-Soto, an employee at the Logan Square Starbucks, said workers haven’t seen any of the benefits of Starbucks’ record profits announced last year, or any hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s about time that we have a seat at the table to demand these things because it’s what we’ve earned,” Vargas-Soto said. “This company and these profits would not exist without us. It’s entirely relying on the work we do together, and the fact that we are the ones facing the customers day-in and day-out.”

A Starbucks spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Starbucks employee Collie Erdosy said it’s frustrating to see lack of union support from a company that markets itself as progressive. 

“There is nothing progressive about stifling a movement led by young, queer workers of color who are standing here confidently to demand a fair contract,” Erdosy said. 

Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago
Starbucks workers Fernando Vargas-Soto and Collie Erdosy (left to right) called on other employees across the city and country to stand together.

In addition to pay raises and cheaper benefits, workers want more security at stores to help deal with “belligerent” customers, especially as they work to enforce the city’s mask and vaccine mandate, Vargas-Soto and Erdosy said. 

“We hope workers across Chicago and across the country begin to realize when they stand together, we can make really big waves for each other,” Vargas-Soto said.

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