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Encinitas Starbucks first in San Diego County to unionize

The fight for better working conditions and better pay has more workers organizing, including local coffee baristas. A Starbucks in Encinitas is now the first in the county to unionize. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has the story.

The Starbucks off Leucadia and Interstate 5 became the 24th store in California and the first in San Diego County to unionize. After cuts were made to staff and hours, workers voted 21-2 on Friday to join Starbucks Workers United.

"This was my favorite job in the whole world. I loved coming in; I loved seeing everybody; I loved making the drinks," said Encinitas Starbucks barista Denika Brown. "But just having less people on the floor, having more strain on yourself ... I'm not a happy person when I leave, and I don't like that."

Brown said there used to be up to seven workers on the floor during a shift until "corporate decided to cut labor. So they’re trying to see how few people we can run the floor with. At times it's been three — even two — if we have to run lunches. Which isn't feasible for a drive-thru and lobby store."


She said most baristas had to take on side jobs to make ends meet due to the loss of hours.

"They're going down to like 11 hours, and they're people who have been asking, 'I need more hours to be able to make rent ...' and we're all doing Door Dash and Instacart on the side. This used to support my rent and bills and it doesn't anymore,” she said.

Brown hopes their win inspires others to join forces and speak up against unfair work practices.

"It feels so good. It's crazy. It took us about three months to get where we are now, but it feels good. It feels like we finally have a voice, (to) be heard, and do what we need (in order) to do our jobs and support our customers effectively," Brown said.

She hopes their store will get more staff and they can return to relying on one income stream like it used to be.


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