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Tucson Starbucks employees push for unionization amid growing national trend

Partners at Park and Speedway location demanding better staffing levels, higher wages
Posted at 6:34 PM, Jul 08, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Nearly 460 Starbucks stores and over 15,000 workers have unionized since December 2021, according the Starbucks Workers United union.

Now, a Starbucks location in Midtown Tucson is seeking to join the movement.

The Starbucks location at Park and Speedway recently petitioned to become unionized, about two years after the University and Euclid location became the first Starbucks in Tucson to unionize.

Shift supervisor Shea Hollis, who is leading the call to unionize, recalls the moment she started to consider the move. It followed a decision by Starbucks to choose the location for a 14-week pilot launch of a delivery program, with only two weeks to prepare.

“The feeling started to really approach when we started to get more of an increase in deliveries,” Hollis said. “We weren’t set up how we should have been to support those deliveries and also support our mobile customers as well.”

The Park and Speedway location was set up primarily for mobile orders, as the shop lacks the seating areas of other locations.

The lack of adequate preparation was compounded by a leadership void. “We also were in between managers at the time,” she said. “So we didn’t have a consistent leader to help support us through such big changes.”

It is this consistency that these Starbucks employees want from management, according to Hollis.

“Whether we change the COO, we change anything up in the higher management, the stores are still expected to run the same,” she said. “So as we’re providing that consistency, we need consistency from higher-ups.”

The inspiration for unionization came from the experience of the University and Euclid location. “They definitely inspired our store to just speak up and use our voice,” Hollis stated.

In addition to seeking higher wages for baristas, the group aims to empower shift managers with more decision-making authority over corporate directives. Hollis says that Starbucks uses a labor tool to determine staffing needs, but that the tool often doesn’t accurately assess what a particular store needs in terms of personnel.

“The company should give more freedom for managers to support their staff and their scheduling needs,” said Hollis. “They know the store better than a labor tool does so I feel like they should have that free reign over controlling the schedule.”

Additionally, Hollis says that diversity initiatives within the company are often not run by the diversity groups being discussed. She says partners are expected to attend these trainings without pay, which the union would look to change.

In response to the union petition, a Starbucks spokesperson commented, “At Starbucks, we believe that our direct relationship as partners is core to the experiences we create in our stores, and we respect our partners' rights to have a choice on the topic of unions.”

According to Hollis, employees at this Starbucks could vote on unionization as soon as July 15. KGUN 9 will continue to follow this developing story, providing updates as they become available.

Joel Foster is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9 who previously worked as an English teacher in both Boston and the Tucson area. Joel has experience working with web, print and video in the tech, finance, nonprofit and the public sectors. In his off-time, you might catch Joel taking part in Tucson's local comedy scene. Share your story ideas with Joel at, or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or X.