Three more Starbucks locations in Buffalo vote in favor of union

Three more Starbucks locations in the Buffalo, New York, area have voted in support of unionizing, dealing yet another blow to the coffee giant as more of its workers organize.

The Walden and Anderson, Sheridan and Bailey and Depew company-owned cafes join two other Buffalo-area locations and one in Mesa, Arizona, in deciding to form a union under Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Only one location, also in the Buffalo area, has voted against unionizing, giving the union a win rate of 85%.

The Starbucks Workers United hub in Buffalo on November 16, 2021.

Libby March | The Washington Post | Getty Images

The initial Buffalo victories for the union have galvanized other locations nationwide to organize. In the last month alone, the number of stores filing petitions with the National Labor Relations Board for union elections has doubled. To date, more than 100 company-owned Starbucks cafes have filed for union elections, all within the last six months.

Still, it’s a small fraction of the company’s overall footprint. Starbucks operates nearly 9,000 locations in the US

The union’s latest round of victories in Buffalo was tight. The Walden and Anderson location voted eight to seven to unionize, and the other two voting locations both voted 15 to 12 in favor of a union.

The National Labor Relations Board’s regional director will now have to certify the ballots, a process that could take up to a week. Then the union faces its next challenge: negotiating a contract with Starbucks. Labor laws do not require that the employer and union reach a collective bargaining agreement, and contract discussions can drag on for years.

After Starbucks workers at its Elmwood location in Buffalo won the first union for employees of a company-owned location, Starbucks’ North American head Rossann Williams wrote a letter to all U.S. baristas, saying the company would bargain “in good faith.”

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