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Starbucks store workers in Rockford vote yes to unionization

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Church Barista CiCi works at the Perryville Road Starbucks location in Rockford. Although she says her job allows her to bring joy to people, with something as simple as a cup of coffee, there are also parts she wanted to change.

“Some of us have worked here for over fifteen years,” Church said. “We don’t really feel like our voices are heard when changes are made.”

But as of Thursday, Church finally feels her voice is heard, loud and clear. Workers at his store on Perryville Road voted yes to unionise, winning their election 16-2. This adds them to the list of more than 100 Starbucks locations across the country to form a union.

“We contacted Workers United in February,” Church said. “No one knows our stores better than us.”

Church says the decision brought unexpected support from the community.

“Every worker, regardless of sector, will be stronger and the community will be stronger if people have a voice at work,” said Sara Dorner, AFL-CIO of Rockford United Labour.

Dr. Rosemary Feurer, professor of history at Northern Illinois University, explains that the way people perceive unions has come a very long way in the last century.

“Back then, they were told to get an education, and you can work your way up,” Feurer said.

But in the current climate, Feurer thinks that view is changing. She thinks the fact that staff at big companies, like Starbucks and Amazon, are unionizing can even motivate others. In fact, Church says his team came up with the idea for Starbucks stores in Buffalo, New York.

“There’s a kind of momentum, an encouragement that continues,” Feurer said.

While Church says Thursday’s vote proves that hard work pays off, it marks the start of a new chapter of hard work.

“We are preparing for our negotiations,” Church said. “We even plan for upcoming events.”

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