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Following national trend, workers at Starbucks in Rochester seek to form union

Starbucks shop in New Hampshire
Dan Tuohy
Starbucks Coffee shop in New Hampshire. Dan Tuohy photo / NHPR

Workers at a Starbucks in Rochester are seeking to form a union, the first New Hampshire location of the coffee chain to do so following a wave of organizing nationally.

In a letter addressed to the company’s CEO released Monday, employees of the Marketplace Drive location Monday raised concerns about worker safety, struggles to obtain enough hours to qualify for certain benefits, and frustration with management’s alleged failure to enact requested changes.

“All we want, at the core of it, is to be able to actually perform our job without it being unnecessarily stressful,” said Haley Bogardus, 25, one of the organizers of the Rochester effort. She added that Starbucks is a “billion dollar international business” with the resources to better staff and train employees.

Since a Buffalo, N.Y., location became the firstStarbucks to unionize in December 2021, more than 290 locations of the Seattle-based coffee chain have voted to unionize, comprising more than 7,000 green-aproned workers, according to Starbucks Workers United.

Leadership of Starbucks has worked to oppose organizing efforts, citing what it

Starbucks shop in NH
Dan Tuohy
Starbucks Coffee shop in NH. Dan Tuohy photo / NHPR

considers generous benefits for employees.

In Rochester, Bogardus said concerns about safety during the pandemic were met with muted responses by management. More recently, she said the number of employees working afternoon and evening shifts has been reduced, resulting in “fewer people, with less hours, fulfilling more drink orders.”

Bogardus said the location expects to vote on union membership later this spring.

Union participation rates in New Hampshire have held largely steady in recent years, with approximately 10.1 percent of workers belonging to unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, matching the national rate.

During a hearing on Capitol Hill last week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a backer of organized labor, accused former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz of engaging in anti-union activities, a claim Schultz denied. Negotiations on a collective-bargaining agreement between any of the unionized workers and Starbucks remain stalled, NPR reported, with both sides blaming each other for a breakdown in negotiations.

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Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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