COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (ABC4) – On Friday, a handful of workers stood outside a Starbucks store — they were on strike, and ready to talk about it to the media.
“Everybody decided not to show up to work today — we’re striking,” said employee Jacob Lawson.
“This is just us finally saying we’ve had enough, we’re tired of the intimidation — we’re unionized now,” added Lawson.
Lawson says the staff shortages, especially around closing time, are wearing down employees.
And staff shortages aren’t unique to Starbucks. They’re pervasive in the service industry, in Utah, and across the country.
“That’s where you see most of the labor shortages occurring is down in the low-skill workers. Not just low-skill workers but businesses that use the low-skill workers,” said Mark Knold, chief economist with Utah’s Department of Workforce Services.
One reason the labor shortage is likely to persist, he says, is that Baby Boomers created an economy that is now too big for the existing workforce; essentially, he says, those Boomers didn’t have enough children.
“Now they’re at the point where they’ve made the economy as big as it can be, they’re retiring out of the economy. And there aren’t enough workers behind them to backfill all the jobs,” said Knold.
Starbucks sent ABC4 this statement on Friday evening:
“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. 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.
We’ve also been clear that we respect our partner’s legal right to organize and will bargain in good faith with the stores that vote to be represented by the union. (That is already underway at several stores across the country).
We have fully honored the process laid out by the NLRB and encouraged our partners to exercise their right to vote in the election to have their voice heard. Any claims of retaliation are false.”