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Indio Starbucks workers file for unionization, joining nationwide movement for workers’ rights

In the latest push for workers' rights, Starbucks employees at the store at Monroe Street and Highway 111 in Indio have filed for a labor union.

The move comes months after a La Quinta Starbucks became the first in the Coachella Valley to unionize. The workers at the Indio location said the majority of the staff is on board for a formal seat at the bargaining table.

"This is something that we all are really passionate about, something that we're really looking forward to," said shift supervisor Isaiah Ruiz. Workers' demands include consistent scheduling, safe working conditions, and earning a livable wage, he said.

Over the past few months, baristas at the Indio Starbucks have reportedly faced deteriorating conditions, including working for several weeks in inches of leaking sewage. "It was really disgusting. It was really nasty- like it was seeping onto like the lobby side, too. Yeah, none of us really felt safe," Ruiz said.

In a letter to Starbucks' CEO, the workers at the Indio location claimed that "Starbucks shows us that we aren't partners but rather exploited workers." They hope that unionizing will give them a voice and a platform to fight for their rights.

The nationwide push for unionization at Starbucks has seen nearly 300 stores and about 7,500 employees win union elections since 2021. The workers at the Indio location hope to add their store to that list in the coming weeks. They expect to take a vote within the next month and a half.

"We just want to be respected as human beings not having to be in sewage or not having to be understaffed and stressing about coming into work every single day," Ruiz said.

Starbucks responded in a statement to News Channel 3, writing in part: “We believe that a direct relationship with our partners…is the right path forward…”

“To be clear: We respect the right of all partners to make their own decisions about union representation, and we are committed to engaging in good faith collective bargaining…”

Starbucks' full statement:

"We believe that a direct relationship with our partners — where we have the flexibility to share success, as we always have — is the right path forward for our company, our partners and the millions we uplift every day. The leadership philosophy at Starbucks is when we exceed the expectations of our partners, they will in turn exceed the expectations of our customers. To that end, we offer our partners the best benefits in the industry, including:

  • An average wage of $17.50 per hour, and a wage range for hourly partners between $15 and $23 per hour (or an average total compensation, with benefits, of approximately $27 per hour).
  • Comprehensive medical, dental and vision coverage options for eligible partners and their families.
  • Paid parental leavefamily expansion reimbursement programs and increased paid partner and family sick-time accrual rates.
  • Reimbursement for required DACA renewal fees.
  • Mental health support, with up to 20 free therapy sessions each year for partners and eligible family members.
  • 100% tuition reimbursement for a four-year bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University through the Starbucks College Achievement Program.
  • Equity ownership in the company through annual Bean Stock grants, which have awarded more than $2 billion in additional pre-tax earnings to partners, to date.
  • 401(k) matching up to the first 5% of eligible pay contributed by partners each pay period.
  • Resources to help our partners better manage student loan debt and incentivized savings programs to help partners plan for short-term goals and unplanned financial challenges.

As a result, over 97% of partners at our more than 9,300 U.S. company-owned stores have chosen to maintain a direct employment relationship with Starbucks. We recognize that a subset of partners feel differently — and we respect their right to organize and to engage in lawful union activities without fear of reprisal or retaliation. 

At those stores where our partners have chosen to pursue union representation, our focus is to ensure that they can trust the process is fair and their voice is heard. As a next step, we welcome the opportunity for partners at our Monroe and Highway 111 store to vote in a neutral, secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB—which allows all partners to make their own informed decision regarding union representation.

To be clear: We respect the right of all partners to make their own decisions about union representation, and we are committed to engaging in good faith collective bargaining for each store where a union has been appropriately certified following a representation election."

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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