More Starbucks Locations Are Trying To Unionize

On December 9, Starbucks workers at one of Starbucks' Buffalo, New York locations, voted overwhelmingly (19 for, 8 against) in favor of forming a union. On December 17, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which was created by Congress in 1935 to "investigate and remedy unfair labor practices by unions and employers" (via NLRB), certified the results of the vote (via Bloomberg). As a result, Starbucks is now required under federal law to engage in what is known as "collective bargaining" with the union (Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union), as reported by Newsweek.

As its name suggests, "collective bargaining" refers to negotiations between an employer and its unionized employees regarding terms of employment, including wages, benefits, and working conditions. In response, Starbucks issued a statement of its intent to cooperate in collective bargaining with the new union. "Our hope is that union representatives also come to the table with mutual good faith, respect and positive intent," the statement reads.

This is just the beginning of a long process for the burgeoning union, but it represents a significant victory for workers at Buffalo's Elmwood Avenue location — it's the first successful attempt by Starbucks workers in the U.S. to organize since the 1980s, when Starbucks became a public company. Moreover, the news has apparently inspired pro-union Starbucks workers from around the nation to consider throwing their collective "hat" into the ring with regard to unionizing at their respective locations. 

Which other Starbucks locations are trying to unionize?

Around the time that employees of Buffalo's Elmwood Avenue Starbucks location were setting in motion their plans to unionize, at least two other Buffalo area stores were thinking of doing the same. On December 9, Elmwood Avenue Starbucks employees voted in favor of joining forces under the auspices of Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (via Newsweek). Workers at one of those other locations (in the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg) voted against unionizing, while the results of the vote at the other store (in nearby Cheektowaga) remain under dispute, with Workers United claiming Starbucks had employed intimidation tactics, including psychological force, to influence employees to vote against unionization (Starbucks has been fighting unionization for decades, according to ABC News). 

However, such obstacles did not stop Starbucks workers at a number of other locations around the country from moving ahead with their plans to organize, according to the Associated Press, which reports that petitions are pending with the NLRB in regard to union votes for two Boston locations, three New York stores, and a Starbucks in Mesa, Arizona (via Newsweek). As Boston workers explained in a letter to Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson, "Like the partners in Buffalo, Arizona, and beyond, we believe that there can be no true partnership without power-sharing and accountability" and that organizing is the "best way to contribute meaningfully to our partnership with the company" (via Twitter).