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Millrise Centre Starbucks becomes first Alberta store to vote for unionization

Employees at a southwest Calgary Starbucks voted to become the first unionized Starbucks in Alberta Employees at a southwest Calgary Starbucks voted to become the first unionized Starbucks in Alberta
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Workers at the Millrise Centre Starbucks have become the first Alberta store to vote successfully to unionize.

The southwest location is joining the United Steelworkers (USW). This was done after mail-in ballots to the Alberta Labour Relations Board showed a vast majority of the Millrise Starbucks workers voted to unionize.

Chey Watson, a barista who works at the Millrise Starbucks, said the Starbucks is unionizing because of challenges relating to the workplace and service.

“Shipping issues, quality concerns, and safety problems have slowly become daily issues instead of occasional challenges,” they said in a release.

Watson added that unionizing would give employees a greater sense of security.

“Joining the USW gives me a sense of security, respect and appreciation. Now we not only have each other’s backs, but there is a global sense of unity.”

Scott Lunny, the USW Director for Western Canada, welcomed the decision, saying that he was proud to welcome the Millrise store to "our growing union family."

"It’s great to see workers coming together to demand better workplaces and we look forward to assisting them to be heard and garner the respect they deserve from Starbucks," Lunny said.

The USW already represents Starbucks workers in parts of British Columbia, namely Surrey, Victoria and Langley. They are also waiting for results from five Lethbridge Starbucks locations on whether or not they should unionize with the USW.

This is the first Starbucks from Alberta to successfully vote for unionization, in stark contrast to the United States, where a wave of Starbucks have opted for unionization.

Previously, unionizing efforts have failed in Alberta, with a Chinook Centre Starbucks rejecting unionization in a vote.

Late Tuesday afternoon, a Starbucks Canada spokesperson issued the following statement:

"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. We continue to respect our partners' (employees') right to organize. We will respect the process and will bargain in good faith guided by our principles. We hope that the union does the same."

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