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Louisville Starbucks the first to unionize in Kentucky

Joshua Bessex/AP
FR171816 AP
FILE - Starbucks employees and supporters react as votes are read during a union-election watch party on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. It’s become a common sight: jubilant Starbucks workers celebrating after successful votes to unionize at dozens of U.S. stores. But when the celebrations die down, a daunting hurdle remains. To win the changes they seek, like better pay and more reliable schedules, unionized stores must sit down with Starbucks and negotiate a contract. It’s a painstaking process that can take years. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)

Workers at an east Louisville Starbucks have become the first employees of the coffee giant to unionize in Kentucky.

A statement from the newly-formed union says workers voted 19-5 to unionize, joining more than 135 Starbucks stores that have done the same since December.

Nathan Potter, an employee at the Factory Lane location in Louisville, told WAVE3 in March that he started the process after only two months on the job. He said he sees people rethinking their relationship with their employers.

"People have been starting to look around and look at the structures that they exist within and think, you know, is this how it is and has to be or could it be better."
Starbucks employee Nathan Potter

Starbucks, meanwhile, continues to officially oppose unionization efforts at its stores, but in a statement a company spokesperson said the coffee chain respects our “partners’ right to organize and are committed to following the National Labor Relations Board process.”

The Louisville Starbucks workers are now set to form a committee to gather input on how contract negotiations should proceed.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.