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Starbucks workers assign unions to win, lose, at two New York stores

Starbucks workers speak to the media after the union vote in Buffalo, New York
Starbucks workers react as they speak to the media following a union vote in Buffalo, New York, U.S., December 9, 2021. REUTERS / Lindsay DeDario

December 9, 2021

By Hilary Russ and Lindsay DeDario

BUFFALO, NY (Reuters) – Starbucks Corp employees on Thursday voted to join a union at a Buffalo, New York store that distributes the coffee chain at its first company-owned location incorporated in the United States. Workers at a second location in Buffalo voted against the organizing push.

Employees at a Starbucks location in upstate New York City voted to join Worker’s Company, a branch of the Service Employees International Union. The counting of votes for the third store ended without an exact result as some votes are still being considered.

The closely watched results come as Corporate America eyes new unionization campaigns as US labor shortages have led to higher wages at most restaurant chains. and large retail stores.

E-commerce company Amazon.com Inc is facing a new election in one of its warehouses in Alabama after the results of the previous election – which the coalition lost – were overturned last month .

Starbucks had several collective cafes and a roaster in the United States in the 1980s, but eventually all were certified. It beat out more recent organized campaigns in Philadelphia and New York City. One location in Canada to be incorporated in 2020.

The Buffalo election involved just over 100 workers, a small fraction of Starbucks’ roughly 220,000 employees at coffee shops in the US.

Even so, the union’s victory could prompt other bartenders to start holding rallies at some of the more than 8,000 US cafes owned by other companies. Currently, three other stores in the Buffalo area and one in Mesa, Arizona, have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to join the union.

“I am completely optimistic,” says James Skretta, a bartender at one of the other New York stores. “We feel as if this is an endorsement of what we’ve been doing.”

The outcome encouraged him to “endure what we know will continue to be an active anti-union campaign,” he said.

Buffalo’s results are significant, according to one labor expert. “Although it’s a small number of workers, this result has huge symbolic importance,” said John Logan, professor of labor at San Francisco State University. “Workers wanting to unionize in the United States are forced to take significant risks, and it would be helpful if they could see other people who took that risk and it paid off.”

Shares of the Seattle-based company closed about 1% lower at $115.35 on Thursday.

‘HOT’ STRATEGY

Some local bartenders have criticized what they say are the company’s aggressive tactics, including flooding Buffalo locations with executives, holding staff meetings and even even brought in former CEO Howard Schultz to speak to workers and exploit the advantages of existing pay increases and benefits.

Starbucks denies that any of its actions lead to union vandalism.

“We have always been a Starbucks, we will always be a Starbucks,” Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks North America, told Reuters in a phone interview shortly before the counting began. “It’s going to be a partnership between the partners that we build and that’s going to be like that.”

Both unions and companies can challenge the results. The NLRB, which conducted the election, will decide the outcome of the vote at the third location thereafter.

In Buffalo, about 15 Starbucks employees supporting the union gathered in one room to see the results. Many jumped, screamed and hugged when they learned they had enough votes to win the first store to count, on Elmwood Avenue.

The vote was August 19 in favor of joining the union.

Bartenders and shift supervisors from the second site on Camp Road voted on August 12 to reject the union.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Additional reporting by Danielle Kaye in New York and Lindsay DeDario in Buffalo, NY; Editing by Anna Driver and Matthew Lewis)

https://www.oann.com/starbucks-loses-bid-to-stave-off-labor-union-in-buffalo-new-york/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=starbucks-loses-bid-to-stave-off-labor-union-in-buffalo-new-york Starbucks workers assign unions to win, lose, at two New York stores

Bobby Allyn

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