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The rank-and-file effort to unionize Starbucks stores around the United States is one of the most head-spinningly historic worker-led movements in our generation. Since the Elmwood Avenue store in Buffalo, New York, made history by becoming the first location to unionize in December of 2021, around 250 Starbucks locations have filed for union elections, and the overwhelming majority of stores that have already held elections voted in favor of unionizing. Even in the face of intense opposition from corporate executives and upper-level managers at one of the most powerful companies in the world, and working within the incredibly restrictive confines of US labor law, partners organizing with Starbucks Workers United keep racking up wins. TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez sits down with Arianna Ayala, a Starbucks partner and member of the organizing committee at her store in New York City, which recently filed for a union election, to talk about her own experience working at Starbucks during the COVID-19 pandemic, why she and her fellow partners took that fateful step to organize, and why they, like Starbucks partners around the country, believe that a unionized workforce will make Starbucks a better company. 

Pre-Production/Studio: Thomas Hedges
Post-Production: Cameron Granadino


The transcript of this interview will be made available as soon as possible.

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Ten years ago, I was working 12-hour days as a warehouse temp in Southern California while my family, like millions of others, struggled to stay afloat in the wake of the Great Recession. Eventually, we lost everything, including the house I grew up in. It was in the years that followed, when hope seemed irrevocably lost and help from above seemed impossibly absent, that I realized the life-saving importance of everyday workers coming together, sharing our stories, showing our scars, and reminding one another that we are not alone. Since then, from starting the podcast Working People—where I interview workers about their lives, jobs, dreams, and struggles—to working as Associate Editor at the Chronicle Review and now as Editor-in-Chief at The Real News Network, I have dedicated my life to lifting up the voices and honoring the humanity of our fellow workers.
Follow: @maximillian_alv