Newly unionized Starbucks workers strike for fair contract, LGBTQ+ rights

Starbucks workers at the newly unionized downtown Iowa City location strike for opportunity to celebrate pride and for the contract their new union demands.


Cody Blissett

Starbucks employees go on strike on Clinton Street in Iowa City, on Friday, June 30, 2023. Luis Aispuro explained the strike shows all the community has support, all the cars honking, and people that aren’t employees coming out here to support us. It’s awesome, it’s great. (Cody Blissett/The Daily Iowan)

Hannah Janson, News Reporter

Starbucks workers in downtown Iowa City became the first in the state to unionize on Friday, June 30. They also went on strike.

Starbucks workers at downtown Iowa City’s location at the corner of Clinton and Burlington took up the picket signs for most of the day. They were on strike from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. and again from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.; behind them, the Starbucks sat dark and closed for the day. 

Evie Roberts, who has worked at the Starbucks for three years, explained the impetus for the strike. 

“Today we’re striking because Starbucks tends to use the gay community to sell coffee to support their business, but this year they aren’t letting us put up pride decorations,” Roberts said. “They’re not letting us express ourselves.” 

Roberts continued, explaining that though employees have tried, management prevented them from decorating the downtown location for Pride month. 

“We asked and they were like, ‘Oh it doesn’t align with our company’s beliefs,’” she said. 

This company-wide policy preventing stores from celebrating pride has incited similar strikes across the U.S., but it is not the only reason for the strike as they also highlighted their unionizing attempt. 

As Roberts said, though the downtown branch passed their union vote more than a month ago, executives hold out on drawing up the contract, but this is not a localized issue. 

“Nationwide, union stores haven’t been able to get Starbucks in a room to discuss a union contract. For our store, it hasn’t even been in discussion yet,” she said.

Starbucks workers were not the only people holding the picket line. One such supporter was Jennifer Sherer, who works for the Iowa City Federation of Labor.

 “I’ve been following it around the country and then supporting the folks here as they worked up to their union elections,” Sherer said. “Lots of people in the community are really excited to see the store unionize and want to see them get a fair contract now.”