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Vermont workers are part of growing momentum around labor unions. Why now?

FILE — Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for Starbucks' employees union election, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. The top lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board said Thursday, April 7, she will ask the board to rule that mandatory meetings some companies hold to persuade their workers reject unions is in violation of federal labor law. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)
Joshua Bessex
Starbucks' employees in Buffalo, New York, voted to unionize late last year.

Live call-in discussion: Vermont has a long history of labor activity and unions, from Barre's granite cutters of the late 1880s to today's Starbucks employees in South Burlington. This hour, host Mikaela Lefrak looks into the recent momentum behind unionizing, and what it means for Vermont and the country.

Employees at the South Burlington Starbucks have notified the company of their intent to form a union and hope workers at other stores in the state will follow their lead. Employees are seeking higher wages, more consistent schedules and better training. A Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement the company would prefer to work with employees as partners, without a union between them, but that the company has fully honored the process laid out by the National Labor Relations Board and encouraged workers to exercise their right to vote on whether to form a union.

The store is part of a nationwide unionization push at the coffee chain that began last year in Buffalo, New York, and at other companies, such as Amazon. Some labor experts say the COVID-19 pandemic brought attention to essential workers, as many people in the service industries either lost their jobs or worked through the pandemic, creating momentum for labor organizers.

Our guests:

Broadcast live on Tuesday, May 10, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Tedra worked on Vermont Edition as a producer and editor from 2022 to 2024.