Starbucks employees at 3 more New York stores vote to unionize


Employees at three more Starbucks stores in suburban Buffalo voted to form unions, a tally of ballots showed Wednesday, bringing the number of unionized Starbucks stores to six and advancing ongoing organizing efforts in at least two dozen states.

Store workers in Cheektawaga, Amherst and Depew voted by narrow margins in favor of unionization, according to the National Labor Relations Board tally. The tally was 8-7 at Cheektowaga, 15-12 at Amherst and 15-12 at Depew.

The vote count was delayed for two weeks after Starbucks filed for review with the labor board. The Seattle-based coffee giant argued that its Buffalo-area stores should vote as a group on the issue of unionization, rather than individually, to avoid labor instability at stores that can share employees. The NLRB ruled against the request on Monday, saying it saw no problem.

The company has actively fought unionization, saying its more than 8,000 company-owned U.S. stores work best when Starbucks works directly with employees, whom the company calls “partners.”

This was the second round of union votes involving Starbucks stores in Buffalo, where efforts to unionize first took hold. Two stores voted to unionize in December. Last month, a suburban Phoenix location became the first store outside New York to organize.

They are the first Starbucks-owned stores in the United States to be represented by a union since the 1980s, when the United Food and Commercial Workers union represented workers at six Seattle-area stores for several years.

Employees who support unionization say they want more information, through collective bargaining, about wages, working conditions and store operations.

Workers at more than 100 stores in 26 states have now asked the NLRB to hold their own union elections, according to Workers United, the union organizing the effort.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership levels are increasing for American workers aged 25 to 34, even as they decline among other age groups.