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Four Michigan Starbucks locations file petitions to organize unions

Joshua Bessex / AP
Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for a Starbucks employees union election on Dec. 9 in Buffalo, N.Y.

Workers at four Starbucks locations in Michigan are pushing to unionize.

Employees at stores in Ann Arbor, Grand Blanc and Clinton Township have filed petitions for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board.

“The company works as a company,” says Monica Lea, an Ann Arbor Starbucks employee. “We should be allowed to work as a union and collectively bargain for the issues that our important to us.”

Lea says pay, health benefits and working conditions are main issues for those organizing the union.

The company’s position is that its compensation is competitive, so it's not necessary for its employees to form a union.

The Michigan stores are organizing with the same union that successfully organized a Starbucks in Buffalo New York.

Lea says the recent success of employees in a Buffalo, New York Starbucks were an “inspiration” to organizers in Michigan.

“That win in the Buffalo store was a huge inspiration for all of us,” says Lea, “We were all absolutely thrilled, and we thought, 'Hey, if they can do that, we can do that.’”

Starbucks is the subject of dozens of union organizing efforts across the U.S. But that's still just a small fraction of the chain's thousands of stores.