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December 1, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 34°F

Opinion

Editorial: Unionization of local workers is a cause for celebration

Last Friday, April 8, Ithaca became the first fullyunionized Starbucks city. 

Before the victorious unionization effort at Ithaca’s three Starbucks locations — on South Meadow Street, East Seneca Street and College Avenue — the opportunity, possibility or likelihood to claim the statement above as fact was close to utopia. 

For this reason alone, the unionization of Starbucks is cause for celebration, but the tears shed and the cheers shouted at the site of this historic moment move beyond a day’s victory against corporate intimidation: it is life-affirming recognition that workers’ basic rights matter. Unions save what is often at risk — losing what makes us human.

And what makes us human in the age of pestilence — where we are forced to face our fears, where the mistreatment of U.S. laborers and the system that allows for their exploitation are laid out and put on display — is falling victim to division. Uniting in these uncertain and divisive times holds weight. Taking a moment to realize the gravity of this historic moment as community members within the City of Ithaca is needed. And this win was not without a fight. 

For the past several months Starbucks workers across the country have been arguing for better pay, better treatment from Starbucks management and more rights for workers. Ithaca’s Starbucks workers in particular experienced union-busting tactics, management issues with studentworkers being denied time off to go home for spring break and anti-union propaganda. 

Now that the reality of overwhelmingly voting in favor of unionizing has set in, negotiations with Starbucks can begin. The goals of free health insurance, a tip minimum, free parking and a livable wage for workers are possible. The humanity of organizing and uniting among each other lives with the unionization of Starbucks. We must applaud our community’s efforts within the City of Ithaca to actualize utopian ideas. Paving the way for workers to have a good quality of life and ensure basic human rights is worthy of every celebration. 

The Ithacan can be reached at ithacan@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @IthacanOnline