Baristas at Hialeah Starbucks Join Nationwide Push to Unionize

A majority of employees at one Hialeah Starbucks formally filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board

NBC Universal, Inc.

Across the United States, young Starbucks baristas are pushing to unionize their stores, including at least one cafe in Hialeah.

William Suarez is leading the push to unionize the Hialeah Starbucks on West 49th Street. 

Suarez, 29, has been working at the same store for 10 years and is a Hialeah native.

"Wages across the board are low, benefits across the board are low, only with a union have we noticed that workers fare much better in these metrics," Suarez said. 

The shift supervisor says he was inspired by baristas in Buffalo, New York, who formally organized after a December vote and a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board.

"We have felt the pressure of the corporation, we have been separated for one-on-one talks. We have felt intimidated, but that intimidation will not scare us. We continue to move forward," Suarez said.

A Starbucks spokesperson sent NBC6 the following statement that says in part:
"From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. Starbucks success—past, present, and future—is built on how we partner together, always with our mission and values at our core."

"It's certainly a case study to watch here in Florida," said Mike Hernandez, a political analyst. 

Hernandez says it is not common to see this unionization effort at a private company in South Florida, more specifically in Hialeah.

"Hialeah is a city of contradictions. It's the most Republican city in the state of Florida and here you have a unionization effort in the Starbucks right off main street in Hialeah," said Hernandez. 

According to Suarez, about 70% of the employees at this store are in favor of a union. These employees formally filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board.

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