© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sen. Brown talks unions, Brent Spence, abortion and more during Cincinnati stop

 Sen. Sherrod Brown visited a Starbucks in Cincinnati where he met with employees who recently voted to unionize.
Tana Weingartner
Sen. Sherrod Brown visited a Starbucks in Cincinnati where he met with employees who recently voted to unionize.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited a downtown Cincinnati Starbucks Friday and spoke with employees who recently voted to unionize. Afterward, he spoke with media about a handful of current events.


Brown chatted with Supervisor Lou Shamblin before greeting other store employees at the location at Fourth and Vine streets. Shamblin helped organize the union vote after becoming worried about what they were seeing at other stores across the country.

"We saw cut hours, we saw people fired, we saw just retaliation for an effort that is really only going to improve workers lives," they said. "I really think that all these young people getting involved is because with the current political climate across the United States, it really just feels helpless sometimes and organizing a union is just one way to make something happen."

Shamblin told WVXU last month the staff were concerned about safety measures, proper training, and general lack of support from management. They say the process wasn't always easy but it was worth it.

"Even though there were some bumps in the road, it happened in the end, and we're all super excited about our victory."

 Starbucks supervisor Lou Shamblin (center) met with Sen. Sherrod Brown before speaking with media about the unionization process they helped lead.
Tana Weingartner
Starbucks supervisor Lou Shamblin (center) met with Sen. Sherrod Brown before speaking with media about the unionization process they helped lead.

Employees at the location voted last month to join the Chicago and Midwest Joint Board of Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. It was the first Starbucks in the area to unionize.

Shamblin says they have since spoken with employees at some other local stores about the process, though they declined to say which locations.

According to his office, Brown wrote a letter to Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz asking the company to voluntarily recognize union campaigns and create a national standard for Starbucks workers across the country.

"What I've noticed in the Starbucks union drives is this generation of Lou and (their) colleagues are the most active pro-union, pro-worker generation in my lifetime," Brown told media. "They understand that if they're organized ... carrying a union card means better wages, better benefits, more control over your work schedule, balancing your life with work ... that's everything in people's lives."

Brown on other current events

After visiting with the Starbucks employees, Brown took questions from media on a variety of topics, ranging from the economy to the Brent Spence Bridge. Here's what he had to say on a few of those topics.

On the Brent Spence Bridge:

"We have the strongest Buy America provision ever in federal law. So no more ... Bay Bridges in California made of Chinese steel. These will be American workers using American materials, period. That's the strongest language we've ever written."

He says decisions about how the bridge gets done, though, should be up to the local governments.

"This will be determined by Kentucky Department of Transportation; Ohio Department of Transportation. I want local communities, local states to make the decisions."

On the federal economic package following Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) saying he won't support it.

"Well, the big economic packages — we've got to finish the Innovation Competition Act, that will mean literally tens of thousands of jobs in Ohio. ... American taxpayers, research and development, and American entrepreneurs developed semiconductors over the decades. Today, only 10% of semiconductors are made in the U.S. In the high end of semiconductors, the ones that are crucial for defense — and for health care, especially — are all made overseas, mostly Taiwan, some in China. So we've got to do this bill."

"(At) the same time, we were doing a bill to cut prescription drug prices, and because Mitch McConnell always does the bidding of the big drug companies, the big oil companies and big tobacco, he's blocking that bill. That's the most important thing we need to do now to get that passed."

On the reaction to the case of a 10-year-old rape victim having to go to Indiana for abortion care:

"We have one of the most radical extremist state legislatures in the country. ... No exceptions for the life and health (of) the mother. No exceptions on rape or incest. It's just disgusting that the legislature is that extreme and narrow-minded and mean-spirited. And then you've got Republican politicians that made fun of that girl, that simply said the story wasn't true. Then when we know the story is true. They should look into a camera and they should apologize to that girl's family. They should apologize to people in this state for being judgmental and being so nasty and they should fix state law ... 70-80% of the state believes that Roe should not have been overturned; 90% of people in this state think there should be exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother."

"I'm concerned that this is going to affect ... economic development even in the state. A lot of young people that might be thinking about moving to Ohio ... some might not want to because our legislature is so extreme on guns and abortion."

Copyright 2022 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.