Workers at Combined Starbucks and Amazon Store File for Union Election

Workers say they're doing two jobs for the pay of one.
Jules Roscoe
New York, US
starbucks and amazon joint protest
Image Credit: Getty Images

Workers at a combined Starbucks and Amazon store in Times Square filed a petition for union election Friday morning, saying they’re required to do the responsibilities of two jobs for the pay of one. 

This is the first petition filed at Starbucks-Amazon combination store, which is only the second of its kind—the two companies opened their first joint venture in late 2021 in upper-Midtown Manhattan. Both companies are also separately experiencing unprecedented labor action. There are over 250 unionized Starbucks locations, seven of which are in New York City. Amazon warehouses, too, have been seeing efforts toward unionization, though only one in Staten Island has been successful so far. 

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According to a spokesperson for Starbucks Workers United, the union which has successfully organized seven other cafes in downtown Manhattan, the Times Square location has high turnover, and some workers say they were transferred there from other Starbucks locations involuntarily. 

The stores feature Amazon Go’s famous “Just Walk Out” technology, meaning that there are no cashiers—customers just scan their phones, pick out what they want, and leave. The Starbucks counter is for mobile pick-up only, and there is a lounge area with seating for customers to eat or work. Because of its convenient location on the ground floor of the New York Times building, it has a high volume of customers. 

Workers say they’re required to fulfill the responsibilities of both a Starbucks employee and an Amazon Go employee—but only for the pay of one. 

“We’re unionizing at this Starbucks because we are doing Amazon work for Starbucks pay and we’re not given the proper resources to manage a store of this type in such a high volume area,” said one worker, who has been at the location for over a year and a half, in a statement. “We have partners that were coerced into working at this store using intimidation and miscommunication and not given any proper benefits when transferred here.” 

Both Starbucks and Amazon are well-known for their anti-union corporate stances. In Chelsea, just 25 blocks away, workers at the New York City Reserve Roastery—Starbucks’ flagship store—are entering a fourth day of their strike protesting alleged bed bug sightings and black mold. The Roastery unionized in April, but has still not successfully begun to negotiate a contract. Starbucks and Amazon union organizers held a joint protest on Labor Day demanding recognition from their companies. They marched from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s residence in Greenwich Village all the way to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s luxury penthouse on Fifth Avenue.

Starbucks and Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.