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Effort to unionize first Starbucks store in Hawaii fails

HONOLULU (AP) — Starbucks workers in a Honolulu suburb narrowly rejected an effort to be the first of the coffee shop chain’s Hawaii locations to unionize.

Employees at a Starbucks in Mililani voted 8-7 Monday against joining the roughly 50 locations nationwide that have unionized, Hawaii Public Radio reported Tuesday.

The unionization effort began in January when the Mililani Town Center store was expected to close for about a week but was ultimately shut for three. Baristas and staff members were temporarily reassigned to nearby stores, and their hours were drastically cut.

Nate Jaramillo, one of the employees who organized the union effort, was working when the votes were read by the National Labor Relations Board.

“We all sort of looked at each other, and everyone who was in the lobby watching the count on a laptop just sort of started crying,” Jaramillo said.

Co-organizer barista Alicia McKinley said she wanted the Mililani location to be unionized for the sake of current and future workers.

“I want the people that are going to be there after me to have a livable wage, to have a reliable schedule, to have managers who will be out there working hard with them,” she said.

Nearly 250 Starbucks locations nationwide have filed petitions to organize. According to the labor relations board, no employees at any other Hawaii Starbucks have filed to unionize.

Seattle-based Starbucks has said they respect the rights of its employees to organize, but that they believe the company is better together without a union.