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Two Twin Cities Starbucks stores are planning to unionize, becoming the first in Minnesota to join the growing Starbucks Workers United movement.

An "overwhelming majority" of workers at the two locations — 300 Snelling Ave. in St. Paul and 4712 Cedar Ave. in Minneapolis — signed union authorization cards, said a news release from Starbucks Workers United, which is an SEIU affiliate.

In a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, signed by staff at the Snelling Avenue location, workers said: 

"We as workers at Starbucks invest our time, well-being, and safety into a company that has shown repeated apathy towards its employees. We work in the midst of an ongoing global health crisis, and see little to no support ... We want to see Starbucks become a healthier and more equitable workplace … We are organizing a union at the Snelling and Stanford store in St. Paul to improve our workplace for ourselves, for members of our community, and for Starbucks as a whole.”

The stores have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union representation election. Starbucks can voluntarily recognize the union, and if that doesn't happen (it hasn't happened at other stores) then there will be an official NLRB election — if a majority of workers vote yes during that election, they'll be a union. 

Starbucks workers' movement to unionize began in Buffalo, New York, and has grown to more than 70 stores nationwide. So far, at least two Starbucks shops in the country have won their union votes. 

The Seattle-based coffee chain continues to oppose union activity and has been accused of union-busting. A spokesperson told Reuters, "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." (Starbucks calls its workers "partners.") 

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In a statement, Workers United International Vice President Kathy Hanshew said: "Starbucks calls its employees 'partners,' but it is abundantly clear that this so-called partnership is one of convenience for the company, that leaves many employee concerns unheard. It is time for Starbucks to do the right thing, acknowledge the voice of their partners, and allow their workers to unionize without interference.”  

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