RICHMOND, Va. — Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at the National in Richmond Sunday as part of a celebration for area Starbucks workers after five Metro Richmond locationsbecame the first in Virginia to unionize.
The first successful union vote for Starbucks workers in the nation happened at a Buffalo, New York, location in December 2021.
Employees said they plan to begin bargaining for better pay, seniority pay and improved health benefits.
The Richmond Unity Fest included speeches and bands, but Sanders was the big draw for many.
The Vermont senator said the Richmond union vote highlights a larger push for workers’ rights over billionaires' profits.
“And what these guys, whether it's Jeff Bezos of Amazon or Schultz of Starbucks, what they are worried about it's not just the money, that's important,” Sanders said. “They are worried that all over this country because of your efforts, people are going to stand up and say enough is enough."
Several other Starbucks locations in Virginia followed suit to unionize after the initial vote by the Richmond stores on Tuesday.
Starbucks sent CBS 6 the following statement in response to the local union vote:
“We will become the best version of Starbucks by co-creating our future directly as partners. And we will strengthen the Starbucks community by upholding each other’s dreams; upholding the standards and rituals of the company; celebrating partner individuality and voice; and upholding behaviors of mutual respect and dignity.'"