Two more Starbucks in Alberta vote to unionize, both in Sherwood Park

A majority of votes from employees at the coffee chain's Beaverbrook Plaza and Sherwood Drive locations in Sherwood Park, Alta., supported joining the United Steelworkers.

Last month, workers at a Calgary location joined United Steelworkers union

A Starbucks storefront is pictured, showing the logo and 'Starbucks' name.
A file photo of a Starbucks store. Workers at two Starbucks locations in Sherwood Park, Alta., voted this week in favour of unionizing. (Eric Risberg/The Associated Press)

More Starbucks workers in Alberta have voted to unionize, this time at two locations in Sherwood Park, outside Edmonton.

In a vote taken Thursday, a majority of employees of the Starbucks at Beaverbrook Plaza on Baseline Road supported joining the United Steelworkers, the union said in a news release Friday.

The 41 workers will become members of USW Local 1-207, which covers a variety of industries across the province.

"We're really looking forward to joining the USW and sort of creating a partnership with them so that we can create better working conditions and better wages for our partners," Sara Doran, a barista, said in an interview Friday.

Workers at a second Sherwood Park Starbucks, on Sherwood Drive, voted Friday to join the USW.

Last month, workers at a Calgary Starbucks voted to unionize following a rejection earlier this year at another location in the city.

In the United States, Starbucks is facing a wave of union drives.

An online tracker and map based on numbers from the U.S. National Labor Relations Board shows about 300 Starbucks locations have filed to unionize since December.

"It's a really, really exciting time," Doran said. "And the fact that this is with Starbucks, it's pretty big."

'Massive wave'

Pablo Guerra, lead organizer for USW in Western Canada, said employees in Sherwood Park had reached out to the union following the Calgary vote. He views it as part of a wider labour movement spurred by the pandemic.

"It's a movement created by the young workers in Canada, especially in Alberta," Guerra said. "The young generations, they're looking into the union to have protection."

The latest unionizations must be certified by the Alberta Labour Relations Board. Collective bargaining toward a first contract would follow.

Workers at five Starbucks shops in Lethbridge are also trying to unionize. A USW spokesperson said the locations voted together as a group but an objection was filed to the relations board, with a hearing set for September. The ballot remains sealed in the meantime.

The USW already represents four Starbucks locations in British Columbia.

"You're going to see a massive wave of Starbucks signing in both provinces," Guerra said.

He said employees at two locations in Edmonton are also organizing.

In Alberta, before a union can hold a certification vote, it must apply to the labour relations board with evidence that at least 40 per cent of employees in the workplace support the union.

A Starbucks spokesperson said the corporation respects its employees' right to organize.

"From the beginning, 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," the statement said.


Stephen Cook


Stephen Cook is a reporter with CBC Edmonton. He has covered stories on a wide range of topics with a focus on policy, politics, post-secondary education and labour. You can reach him via email at stephen.cook@cbc.ca.