Workers at a Starbucks in Santa Maria have joined the nationwide unionization movement as employees face retaliatory efforts from Starbucks corporate across the country.

At Santa Maria’s store located at Broadway and McCoy, 22 of its 33 workers signed an election petition in July to unionize their store after years of talk and months of organizing. 

The unionization push started in Buffalo, New York at the start of this year. Now, more than 200 stores have unionized. 

“Buffalo was that inciting incident that showed us a path forward,” Jaylee Moore, a lead organizer of the Santa Maria union, said.

Nationwide, Starbucks corporate has cut hours for team members and even gone so far as to fire team members in reaction to the unionization effort. Moore says that it was rare for her store to ever have only three or four people working the floor. Now, that’s regular.

As a trans individual, Moore said she was drawn to Starbucks due to the store’s acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. Jaylee wants to protect the LGBTQ+ friendly environment she was able to help foster as a four-year Starbucks team member by unionizing. 

“All of us should have a say to protect that environment that I was able to prosper in, so other people like me can have that ability to be their true selves and prosper,” Moore said.

According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Starbucks has violated labor law in its attempts to stop the unionization effort. Stores that attempt to unionize are subject to captive audience meetings, which require team members to watch videos or hear arguments against unionizing from management.

“Those meetings inherently involve an unlawful threat that employees will be disciplined or suffer other reprisals if they exercise their protected right not to listen to such speech,” NLRB President Jennifer Abruzzo said.

Despite investors urging Starbucks corporate to adopt a “neutral policy” towards unions, Starbucks has continued to union bust. 

In Santa Maria, workers have not been subject to captive audience meeting or any other forms of union-busting, but Moore said she expects they will now, after a successful petition.

Moore said the Santa Maria store will hold an election to decide on unionizing in October.

Correction: This article was updated to correct the month of the unionization election in Santa Maria. The election is set to be held in October.