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Two more Boston-area Starbucks join unionization push

And workers at another two locations are expected to file intent to unionize later this week, bringing the Boston-area total to six.

Pro-union pins sat on a table during a watch party for Starbucks employees' union election in Buffalo, N.Y., in December.Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

Workers at another two Boston-area Starbucks locations took steps to unionize Wednesday in keeping with a nationwide organizing campaign at the country’s largest coffeehouse chain.

The vast majority of employees at a Starbucks cafe in Cleveland Circle and one in the Continuum building in Allston sent a joint letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson earlier this week, asking the company to recognize their efforts and end what they called “shameless union-busting.”

“Unions are the backbone of the working world, and we recognize that forming one is the only true way to become agents of change in the workplace,” the workers wrote and later tweeted.


The workers follow their colleagues at two other local Starbucks — 1304 Commonwealth Ave. in Allston and 277 Harvard St. in Brookline — who voted to unionize last month. In 2021, multiple other Boston cafes, including Pavement Coffeehouse, Darwin’s, and three Somerville coffee shops, took steps to unionize, too.

In total, workers at 26 Starbucks across the country have now announced their intention to form a union. As of October, the company had more than 15,000 locations in the United States.

“We really just want a seat at the table,” said Mo Chelan, a 19-year-old barista and organizer at the Continuum cafe. “We feel we deserve a right to be heard in the voting process. And this is how we can achieve that.”

Jeff Bravo, a barista at the Cleveland Circle location, agreed. “Unionization is one of the ways you can hope to have a voice above the roar of corporate decisionmaking,” he said.

In a statement to the Globe, Starbucks said its position on unionization hasn’t changed since December.

“Starbucks success — past, present and future — is built on how we partner together, always with Our Mission and Values at our core,” it read. “From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us at Starbucks, and that conviction has not changed.”


By Wednesday, nine of 11 employees at Continuum and 14 of 18 employees at Cleveland Circle had signed union cards to join Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

Two more Boston-area locations will file to unionize by Friday, said Allston Starbucks barista Kylah Clay, raising the total here to six. Then the city will tie Buffalo for the highest number of cafes participating in the organized labor effort.

The Starbucks store in Allston, one of four Boston-area locations that have taken steps to unionize.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Bravo, 55, said that’s a testament to the high level of education and pro-union sentiment in Boston.

“We have thinkers in this town,” he said. “When you couple progressivism and thought, it’s hard not to take that to the logical conclusion of action.”

Employees at the two original Boston-area locations, including Clay, are now in talks with the National Labor Relations Board to negotiate which employees are eligible to vote in a formal election.

Diti Kohli can be reached at her @ditikohli_.