© Reuters. PHOTOGRAPHY: Members of Starbucks Workers United meet at their office in Buffalo, New York, USA, December 7, 2021. REUTERS / Lindsay DeDario / File Photo
Written by Hilary Russ and Lindsay (NYSE 🙂 DeDario
BUFFALO, NY (Reuters) – Starbucks Corp. employees voted Thursday to join a union at a Buffalo store in New York City, delivering their first union-owned location in the United States to a coffee chain. Workers elsewhere in the city voted to reject the organizing action.
Employees at one Starbucks location (NASDAQ 🙂 in Buffalo voted to join Workers United, a subsidiary of the International Service Workers Union.
The vote count for the third trade in upstate New York ended without a final result as a number of ballots were still under review and the process could drag on early next year, according to Ian Hayes, a union lawyer.
“We will continue to listen,” Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks North America, said in a letter to employees after the vote. “These are preliminary results with no immediate change in our partnership as the NLRB process continues.”
Carefully monitored results come as Corporate America plans new union organizing campaigns amid a labor shortage in the U.S. that has already led to higher wages in most large retail chains and restaurants. Experts say Starbucks results could spur union activity in other companies.
“Although the number of workers is small, the result is of immense symbolic importance,” said John Logan, a professor of work at San Francisco State University.
E-commerce company Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ 🙂 is facing new elections https://www.reuters.com/business/amazon-alabama-facility-ordered-re-run-union-election-us-labor- board -2021-11-29 in one of its warehouses in Alabama after the results of previous elections were annulled last month – which the union lost.
The Buffalo election https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/starbucks-union-drive-spurred-by-barista-burnout-mobile-orders-2021-12-09 was attended by just over 100 workers, only a small fraction of the approximately 220,000 Starbucks employees in American cafes.
Nevertheless, the union’s victory could encourage other baristas to start organizing rides at some of the company’s more than 8,000 other U.S. cafes. Already, three other stores in the Buffalo area and one store in Mesa, Arizona, have petitioned the National Labor Relations Committee to join the union.
“I’m an absolute optimist,” said James Skretta, a barista at one of New York’s other stores who called for an election. “We feel like this is a confirmation of what we’ve been doing.”
The outcome encourages Skretta to “endure what we know will continue to be an aggressive anti-union campaign,” they said.
Seattle-based shares closed about 1% on Thursday at $ 115.35.
Some local baristas have condemned the company’s aggressive tactics, including flooding Buffalo locations to executives, holding meetings with employees, and even bringing former CEO Howard Schultz to talk to workers and glorifying the virtues of existing pay and benefit increases.
Starbucks denies that any of his actions were to break up the union.
The company had several union cafes and a roastery in the United States in the 1980s, but all were eventually decertified. He won recent organizational campaigns in Philadelphia and New York. One location in Canada was united in 2020.
In Buffalo, about 15 Starbucks union-backed employees gathered in a room to watch the results. Many jumped, screamed and hugged when they realized they had enough votes to win the first store to be counted, on Elmwood Avenue.
There were 19-8 votes in favor of joining the union.
Baristas and shift supervisors from another location on Camp Road voted 12-8 to reject the union. Hayes, a union lawyer, said during a news conference that the union would dispute those results.