Buffalo Starbucks workers vote for union in 1 store

Workers at a Buffalo-area Starbucks store have voted to form a union, according to results released Thursday by the National Labor Relat...


Workers at a Buffalo-area Starbucks store have voted to form a union, according to results released Thursday by the National Labor Relations Board.

Workers at a second store in the area voted against unionization, the board said, although a union lawyer said some ballots were handed over to the agency and had not been released. accounts.

Single store victory represents a challenge to the model of work at the giant coffee retailer. None of the approximately 9,000 company-owned Starbucks stores in the United States were unionized prior to the vote. Votes at another Buffalo-area store will be counted later Thursday.

Workers expressed frustration with understaffing and insufficient training when they ran for union elections in stores end of August, problems that tormented the company for years but who seemed to get worse during the pandemic.

Unionized workers join Workers United, a subsidiary of the giant Service Employees International Union.

The election was conducted by mail ballots which were due on Wednesday. In November, workers at three other stores in the Buffalo area submitted the documents necessary for the holding of union elections, but it was not clear when the votes would take place for these outlets.

Starbucks responded to the union campaign with a sense of urgency. Throughout the fall, out-of-town directors and executives – even the company’s president of retail for North America – converged on stores in Buffalo, where they interviewed employees about operational challenges and participated in menial tasks like cleaning bathrooms.

In a video of a meeting in September seen by the New York Times, an Arizona district manager told colleagues the company asked him to go to Buffalo to help “save” it from unionization.

Several workers who support the union have said they find the presence of these officials intimidating and, at times, surreal. They also complained that Starbucks had temporarily closed some stores in the area, which they found disruptive, and said Starbucks had additional staff in at least one of the three stores that held elections. Workers said this diluted support for organizing in the store.

Former officials of the National Labor Relations Council have noted that these actions of the company could be interpreted as undermining the “laboratory conditions” which are supposed to prevail during the union elections and that they could be used as motive to cancel the results. A regional director of the labor committee recently overthrown a union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama for similar reasons.

Former labor council officials also said that ‘packing’ a store by hiring or transferring additional workers there could be considered illegal if the additional workers did not appear to serve a legitimate business purpose and were likely to object. to the union.

Starbucks said it sent officials out of town and temporarily closed stores to help resolve staffing and training issues and to renovate stores to make them more efficient. The company said it had added staff to deal with an increase in the number of workers calling in sick and had taken such steps across the country since the spring when coronavirus infection rates spiked. dropped and the stores got busier.

Rossann Williams, the president of North America, said in an interview with Buffalo on Wednesday that she didn’t think the run-up to the vote was particularly controversial and that she spent much of her time there. down this fall to listening to employees, who the company refers to as partners, and discussing “terms that partners had reported.”

The company said it did not believe any of its actions would prompt the labor council to overturn the election results.

Starbucks also argued that workers at its roughly 20 stores in the Buffalo area should vote together in a single election, rather than in the separate elections as the ordered labor commission end of October. The company said allowing individual stores to decide to unionize is problematic because employees can work in multiple locations and because stores are largely run as a group. A single, larger election generally favors the employer.

Starbucks lodged an appeal with the National Council for Labor Relations in Washington seeking to block the elections on these grounds. The council on Tuesday rejected his request for reconsideration of the case.

Starbucks has faced other union campaigns over the years, including one in New York City in the 2000s and one in 2019 in philadelphia, where she fired two employees involved in the organization, a decision that a labor council considers find illicit. The company has appealed the decision and a decision is still pending.

Neither campaign has been successful, but workers are unionized at Starbucks stores owned by other companies that operate them under license agreements. And workers at a company-owned store in Canada recently unionized.

A handful of the business first stores in Seattle seem to have had a union in the 1980s which was subsequently decertified.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Buffalo Starbucks workers vote for union in 1 store
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