Hispanic Business reports that Workers at a Fort Worth Starbucks said Friday they have joined an effort launched in 2004 to unionize the nation’s largest coffee company.

The workers, who blocked the drive-through lane early Friday at the Starbucks at 1608 W. Rosedale St., said Fort Worth is the sixth U.S. city — and the first in Texas — with an outlet where workers have affiliated with the fledgling Starbucks Workers’ Union.

The organizing campaign is being aided by the Industrial Workers of the World, said Michelle Cahill, a Starbucks barista who participated in the protest. The Cincinnati-based IWW traces its roots to a 1905 organizing effort.

Among the groups’ demands are better and less expensive health care coverage, increased wages and first-aid kits for the stores, Cahill said. To protect the local workers, she declined to say how many back the organizing effort. Starbucks spokeswoman Stacey Krum said the workers’ actions are in response to specific circumstances at the Fort Worth location and are not an indication of broader employee unrest.

“While we need to look into some of the issues raised, others are either mistaken or exaggerated,” she said. “We don’t anticipate that this had broader implications.”

The organizing effort comes to Texas as union membership, and clout, are well below historic peaks. Union organizing often picks up during economic downturns as workers, fearful of losing their jobs, seek security, said Mark Sullivan, director of the labor education center at the University of Connecticut.

 Hispanic Business