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Workers at the Veterans Parkway Starbucks in Clarksville petitioned for union recognition Tuesday morning. The location could become the first in Indiana to have a Workers United union. 

Mila Wade, a barista and a union backer, said wages and management practices don’t reflect the progressive image Starbucks tries to cultivate.

“They make a big deal in their marketing about the benefits that they offer, but those benefits are held over our heads, and we can lose them at any point in time,” Wade said. “When workers do organize to ask for fairer conditions and we’re met with union busting tactics, I would really hope that others would see that clear contradiction.”

Workers are seeking more equitable hiring practices and increased wages. Wade said her $12 an hour pay makes it difficult to afford rent and food.

“For the price of what Starbucks charges for their drinks, I can make $12 worth of drinks in less than a minute,” Wade said.

The petition comes days after a Louisville Starbucks voted 19-5 to unionize under Workers United. More than 250 locations nationwide have petitioned for unionization since August of last year.

A corporate Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement “we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed.” 

The spokesperson forwarded a release from December 2021 by Rossann Williams, executive vice president, stating Starbucks “will respect the legal process and bargain in good faith with the stores that chose to be represented by Workers United.”

Michael is a senior studying journalism and political science at Western Kentucky University and a news reporter with WFPL and KyCIR.