Starbucks, the Seattle-based coffee company that touts its progressive values, has become infamous for its aggressive efforts to block “partners” from forming unions. Since the Starbucks Workers United union began organizing about two years ago, workers at nearly 400 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize–including 24 Starbucks stores here in Washington state. But not one of those stores has won a first contract. Starbucks currently faces multiple federal charges from the National Labor Relations Board for violating its employees’ legal rights.

Now, the Legislature is considering bills that might help Starbucks baristas and other low-wage workers level the playing field against their deep-pocketed employers. Senate Bill 5777 and House Bill 1893 would allow workers who go on strike to access unemployment insurance benefits after two weeks. These benefits, which only partially replace lost wages, would help us and our families keep a roof over our heads and food on the table while we fight for fairness.

Rather than negotiate a fair contract, low-wage employers like Starbucks can weaponize the economic instability of their employees. Recognizing that striking workers and our families should have some economic support, New York, New Jersey, and Maine allow strikers to access the unemployment social safety net. SB 5777/HB 1893 would grant workers in Washington the same protection.

Some frustrated Starbucks workers have engaged in one-day walkouts to protest the company’s intransigence. But most Starbucks employees live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to go on a longer-term strike without facing evictions, vehicle repossessions, and other extreme hardships.

This is the situation that too many of us low-wage, low-benefit workers find ourselves in. Our employers know we can’t afford to strike, so our bosses have a power imbalance that stops us from fighting for what workers deserve.

That’s why 21 Washington state senators and 51 state representatives have cosponsored SB 5777 / HB 1893. These legislators want to address this power imbalance by allowing striking workers to access the unemployment safety net. But lobbyists representing Washington's biggest corporations are aggressively opposing this legislation.

None of us want to go on strike. Washington workers would rather be building, teaching, providing health care, or making customers a latte than walking a picket line. But with income inequality reaching record levels, sometimes working people must make the difficult decision to walk out and demand reasonable wages. Our employers shouldn’t have an incentive to starve us out by forcing a strike rather than negotiating a fair contract.

Starbucks employees, and all workers in Washington, deserve the economic protection SB 5777 / HB 1893 would provide. State lawmakers should stand with the workers who make our state an economic success, not enable intransigent employers that refuse livable wages and working conditions.

Rachel Ybarra is a Starbucks barista in Seattle and member of Starbucks Workers United.

Editor's note: This post originally stated that Starbucks faced federal charges from "the US Department of Labor," but they only face charges from the NLRB.