Starbucks workers at three New York locations will vote to organise first union in company history

Employees at three stores will vote to join union, first in company history

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 29 October 2021 17:39 BST
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Workers at three Starbucks locations in New York have scored a victory in their campaign for union membership.

The stores in the Buffalo, New York area will hold separate vote-by-mail elections from 10 November and ending on 8 December to vote on whether to unionise, according to a decision from the National Labor Relations Board on 28 October.

Workers will need only a majority of votes cast at a single location to form a union; Starbucks argued that employees at all 20 Buffalo-area stores would need to vote in a single election.

There are roughly 128 employees at the three participating stores, according to a filing from the board.

If successful, the stores will be the first among Starbucks’ 8,000 company-owned stores to unionise, marking a landmark labour victory as thousands of workers across the US join strikes for better wages and working conditions or to push for union membership.

Starbucks, which rejects the union effort, said in a statement that the company’s success “has come from our working directly together as partners, without a third party between us.”

“We remain focused on supporting our partners as well as maintaining open, transparent and direct conversations throughout the process,” the statement said.

The company reported record fourth quarter revenue of $8.1bn on Thursday and has announced a $1bn investment in raising worker pay, with starting hourly wages set at $15.

Starbucks Workers United member Michelle Eisen said in a statement that the company has had decades to implement seniority pay, and that workers “will look forward to making more improvements when we negotiate” a union contract.

“With a seat at the table and a voice on the job, we will be able to form a true partnership with management and democratically decide on our working conditions,” she said.

Starbucks workers have joined a wave of labour-led organising across the US, with workers from some of the world’s largest brands – including John Deere, Frito Lay, Kelloggs and Nabisco – leading nationwide strikes for better working conditions and wages.

Thousands of members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees also have threatened a strike, with 60,000 union members potentially grinding film and television production to a halt.

More than 1,000 Alabama coal miners have been striking since April, and rallied in New York City in August to draw attention to their fight.

After a high-profile union vote among workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, which gained support from members of Congress, labour organisers accused the retail giant of busting a campaign to create the first-ever union in the company’s history.

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