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Albuquerque Starbucks workers & community members hold "sip-in" on Labor Day

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Gino Gutierrez
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KSFR News
The Starbucks location at Rio Grande and I-40 in Albuquerque was the first Starbucks in New Mexico to file a petition to unionize back in July

For Starbucks employee Jacob Sherwood, the unionization efforts at their store located at Interstate 40 and Rio Grande in Albuquerque have come a long way since they filed a petition to unionize back in July.

“It started with two of us just talking, let’s do this, what if we did this? What if we wanted this? Today, we’re in the middle of the process of the voting. We just mailed in all of our ballots and then we’ll know for sure if we’re unionizing or not.”

Sherwood, along with other union members and supporters held a “sip-in” Monday evening at their store, in part to give the community a platform to show their support for the union.

One of those supporters was Sadie Hollrah, who is an organizer for the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Hollrah said through a united workers front, they can better advocate for change.

“It’s important to remember that through a mass movement, through mass struggle, we can really protect everyone, make sure everyone’s needs are taken care of. Which is what we’re really trying to do here.”

One such need Sherwood said the workers would like to be taken care of is their labor hours and pay.

In fact, part of the reason they decided to file to unionize was due to the store’s constant labor cuts at the start of each quarter, which put pressure on him to be able to account for all of his expenses.

“I for one need 30 hours to be able to pay my bills and pay my rent, I was somewhere close, in the ballpark of 15-18 hours a week, that’s unlivable and I can’t stand for that. So you’re either forced to find another job and I just think that’s very unfair to do to your workers.”

According to indeed.com, the average Starbucks Barista in the United States makes an average hourly wage of $14.37. That equates to roughly $1,149.60 every two weeks before taxes, or $29,889.60 annually.

According to MIT’s living wage calculator, a single person with no children living in Albuquerque needs to make approximately $32,600 to be able to afford needs such as food, housing, medical care, transportation, and other needs.

Looking beyond the voting process, Sherwood said he hopes Starbucks will be willing to negotiate in fairness with their workers.

Personally, Sherwood would like to see better pay, hours, workers protections and a possible pension program for long tenured employees.

But nothing is set in stone at the moment, but if the store does unionize, Sherwood said the team will come together to decide on their priorities.

“We haven’t really come down to a solid plan on what we’d want. It’s something that I feel like once we do unionize, we’ll come together and start talking about what we want.”

Gino Gutierrez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A lifelong resident of New Mexico, Gino found interest in broadcasting after falling in love with sports and sports broadcasting. He attended the University of New Mexico, where he majored in mass media journalism. While at UNM, he worked the New Mexico Daily Lobo, serving as both sports and managing editor. He can also be heard providing play-by-play commentary for the Lobo Hockey Network.