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The Unionization Movement Has Officially Reached Bay Area-Born Peet’s Coffee

Workers at a Davis location of the Bay Area-based coffee chain became the first in the country to unionize last week

Two cups of coffee on a table in a Peet’s Coffee store. Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

Peet’s Coffee at 1411 West Covell Boulevard in Davis just became the first location within the Bay Area-born coffee chain to unionize. Following a 14-1 vote, the workers became members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 on Friday, January 20.

Though two Peet’s Coffee locations in Davis petitioned to unionize in November, a downtown Davis shop at 231 E Street ended up not proceeding with a union vote, after which the company paid workers a one-time $500 bonus “to recognize the extra time those employees had invested leading up to and during the petition process,” per a company spokesperson.

Schroedter Kinman, an organizer at the downtown Davis shop, says the Covell Boulevard location’s vote represents a historic win. “This is the fifth or sixth-largest coffee chain in the country,” Kinman says. “And now it has a union. That’s so exciting, and it’s difficult to put into words.”

Through a statement emailed to Eater SF, a spokesperson for Peet’s said that while the company hoped for another outcome regarding the Covell Boulevard location’s vote, the company respects the right of its employees. “As we follow the legally required next steps with the union at North Davis, we will continue to work for and with our employees companywide,” the statement reads.

There’s been a nationwide push toward workers' rights across the food and beverage industry. Tyler Keeling, a Starbucks Workers United organizer from Lakewood, California, got a personal shout-out from the PWU Twitter account after the shop’s victory. The first California Starbucks locations to unionize were two outposts in Santa Cruz in May 2022; in August 2021, Colectivo Coffee workers in Chicago formed the country’s largest cafe workers union; and in August 2022, Chipotle joined the trend.

Kinman says that while his outpost didn’t unionize, it was exciting to be in the room when it happened. “It’s just the first step,” Kinman says. “It’s a wave coming across this country.”

Correction: January 23, 2023, 3:15 p.m. This article has been updated to reflect that Peet’s Coffee offered workers at the downtown Davis store a bonus after they withdrew a petition to vote on forming a union.