SB Workers United is striking at locations in Seattle, Washington, USA while in a contentious battle with corporate leadership over working conditions and wages.
From the outside, an intriguing aspect of this labor dispute is that Starbucks is also closing highly-visible, iconic stores in its hometown and across the country.
The rationale for closing those stores is debatable, and also contentious, because a higher percentage of unionized stores are being closed than non-union stores.
However, my interest in following the unionization is rooted in wanting to understand the spirit of the front-line baristas. The baristas provide the public face of a corporate brand and their service is part of the product.
Baristas here are also entrenched in local culture and lore. Seattle's history with espresso and coffee shops predates Starbucks. It will be worth following how the often-youthful, hip, and well-organized baristas fare as this labor dispute unfolds, how the company changes, and what impacts are felt in Seattle and elsewhere.