OAK CREEK, Wis. — Employees of the Oak Creek Starbucks are overjoyed that they are the first Starbucks location to unionize in the state of Wisconsin, joining a nationwide push.

They are joining Starbucks Workers United.

Hannah Fogarty and Sydney Labarron-Fahl say the effort to unionize was about seeking better wages, better benefits and improved COVID-19 policies.

In a statement sent to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, the union said at $12.60 an hour, it’s impossible for any barista with bills and rent to pay to also develop a savings account to fall back on in the event they fall ill.

“For us, it was absolutely about respect,” Fogarty said. “Obviously we want our financial freedom to be respected as well as our physical safety to be respected, so for us that’s stricter safety rules and better compensation.”

In response to the unionization, Starbucks sent the following statement:

“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. We respect our partner’s right to organize and are committed to following the nation labor relations board process.”

Labarron-Fahl believes it was a necessary move.

“A lot of things that the managers think that can be solved by them. It’s on a corporate level so we hope by having a chance to talk and negotiate, we can have a better relationship with corporate itself,” said Labarron-Fahl.

The final vote to unionize was 15-8.

The Oak Creek Starbucks employees hope other locations across the state also form unions.