Oak Creek Starbucks becomes first branch in state to unionize

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OAK CREEK, Wis. (CBS 58) -- An Oak Creek Starbucks location has become the first branch in the state to unionize.

The Howell Avenue location employees voted 15-8 to elect Workers United International Union as their representative in the workplace. 

"Feels super exciting," shift supervisor Sydney Levarron-Fahl said.

Levarron-Fahl told CBS 58 she and her coworkers voted to unionize so they could have more of a say of what goes on in their store.

"We're going to bargain for better pay, better wages, that kind of thing, benefits, of course, and then things like showing our personal freedom. So, that could include like the dress code, things like that," Levarron-Fahl said.

A Starbucks spokesperson told CBS 58 in a statement they respect the store's right to organize and is committed to following the National Labor Relations Board Process.

"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," a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement. 

More than 200 branches of the international coffee chain filed to be represented by the union, according to a press release. 

“We are extremely proud to welcome the workers of Oak Creek into our Union. We are grateful for their bravery, hard work, and dedication. Being the first in Wisconsin to organize with Starbucks Workers United fuels momentum for the campaign in active stores and empowers partners at other stores to know that winning their Union is possible and that Starbucks Workers United is the best Union for them," International Vice-President of Workers United  Kathy Hanshew said in a statement to CBS 58.

National reports of employees getting fired after leading efforts to unionize didn't scare Levarron-Fahl and her co-workers away from taking a vote.

"I think at the beginning it was a concern, but the union, Starbucks Workers United, really, we feel like they have our back 100%," Levarron-Fahl said. "We don't feel like we have a risk of being fired or retaliated against because we have such a great support system."

Levarron-Fahl said she hopes other stores will follow their lead and customers support them.

"It feels inspiring and I hope it inspires other people, too," Levarron-Fahl said.

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