Organized labor could gain a long-sought toehold inside one of the world’s largest restaurant chains this week when federal officials are expected to count the votes in a series of union elections at three Starbucks locations in upstate New York.

Starbucks Workers United would win the victory and create the first ever unionized, corporate-run Starbucks in America.

Nearly 9,000 retail outlets are owned by the company. The company also owns nearly 9,000 stores across the country. Although only 100 employees are covered by the Buffalo three-store chain, campaigns for unionization at other Starbucks stores could be triggered by a union at one of these Starbucks-owned locations. The union could get a boost from the public after losing an election at an Amazon warehouse, Alabama, earlier in the year.

Starbucks is sending out outside managers and executives as a signal of its belief in the importance of this issue. the upstate stores for weeks, telling “partners,” as the company calls its employees, that it wants to fix whatever led them to file union petitions. Howard Schultz, a chain founder and near-presidential candidate, was even sent by the company to Buffalo. He spoke with workers in a hotel where he delivered an address. ill-advised Holocaust analogy last month.

Casey Moore is a Barista who was involved in organizing the effort. All the attention paid by corporate headquarters in Seattle shows how powerful a union can wield, according to Moore. Starbucks has been compelled to change things by simply filing for election she claimed.

“It just goes to show they’re so scared of what we can potentially do with just the threat of a union,” said the 24-year-old Moore, whose Buffalo Starbucks has not yet petitioned for an election. “Imagine what we could get them to agree to if we actually had a union.”

HuffPost received a referral from a Starbucks spokesperson to refer HuffPost. public letter in October from Rossann Williams, president of the company’s North America operations. Williams said it was “heartbreaking” that some workers in New York “don’t feel the partnership we pride ourselves on having.”

“We are asking partners to vote ‘no’ to a union — not because we’re opposed to unions but because we believe we will best enhance our partnership and advance the operational changes together in a direct relationship,” Williams wrote.

Additionally, the company made motions to the National Labor Relations Board to expand the bargaining unit. The union would have to organize more employees. The board has not yet ruled on the company’s latest effort to stop the ballots from being counted, so it’s not certain that the votes from the four-week mail-in elections will be tallied on Thursday as scheduled.

The union was dissolved last month filed an unfair labor practice chargeStarbucks is being sued for illegal surveillance and intimidation of employees. These claims are denied by the company.

“They’re so scared of what we can potentially do with just the threat of a union.”

Casey Moore, Starbucks barista & union supporter

However, three other stores in the Buffalo area have been filed by the union for election. It has filed for elections at Mesa, Arizona. This suggests that the campaign is on track.

Starbucks Union would make up part of Workers UnitedAn affiliate of Service Employees International Union. Starbucks is home to a unionized, corporate-owned shop in Victoria, British Columbia. Workers joined the United Steelworkers recently. ratified their first contract.)

To win, a union must have at least 30% of employees in the expected bargaining unit sign cards authorizing elections. More than half of workers must also vote for the union. Richard Bensinger, a longtime labor organizer and former organizing director at the AFL-CIO helping the Starbucks workers’ campaign, said the union gathered union cards from at least 80% of employees at any store where it has filed for an election.

Such a supermajority normally bodes well for a union, but is far from a guarantee of victory — especially when the company carries out an aggressive counter-campaign.

Starbucks hired Littler Mendelsohn (a top law firm that aids employers during organizing drives), to manage litigation before the NLRB. While the company hasn’t brought in anti-union consultants to pressure employees in face-to-face meetings, workers say managers have been holding group meetings and one-on-one talks aimed at dissuading unionization. Unemployed worker claimed that he found himself alone at such meetings. meetingWith nine managers.

Williams, president of Starbucks North America has been present in Buffalo for many years. In addition to being a constant presence, he can also be seen cleaning the floors. September photoFrom the union.

“That would be like Jeff Bezos going to [an] Amazon [warehouse]Three months. It’s loony,” said Bensinger. “It’s a false narrative that they came here to help. They arrived to disturb. It’s not very honorable.”

Jaz Brisack, a union supporter voting in one of the elections this week, said the presence of additional managers made it trickier to discuss the union openly at work, since some employees wouldn’t want supervisors to know they support organizing.

“There’s always someone from corporate or one of these support managers that was flown in,” Brisack, 24, told HuffPost in October as the campaign was heating up. “It’s just created an atmosphere of intimidation.”

Starbucks spokesperson stated that executives often visit regional locations and allow managers to help out at any other location. The spokesperson denied that the visits were meant to intimidate anyone and said the company respects its workers’ right to organize.

Starbucks in the United States is union-free, although a trio election in Upstate New York may change this.
Nathan Stirk via Getty Images

They have received a great deal of support from political stars. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (D-NY.), and Sen. Kirsten Gilbrand (D-N.Y.), sat down in Buffalo with Starbucks workers to have roundtable discussions. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a town hallYou can livestream the meeting with Starbucks employees Monday night.

“If these Starbucks workers succeed in their organizing effort, it will be a major breakthrough — not only for Starbucks employees, but for all workers in the low-wage service industry as a whole,” Sanders said.

Bensinger said the attention the campaign has drawn shows “it’s going beyond Buffalo,” though he declined to discuss other areas of the country where Starbucks Workers United hopes to file for elections. According to Bensinger, winning even one vote in Buffalo would demonstrate that the NLRB can win an election.

“We’re really focused on Buffalo and trying to win one,” Bensinger said. “The fact that there would be a union in the company is really important.”

“It’s a false narrative that they came here to help. They came here to disrupt.”

Richard Bensinger (Organizer) on the arrival Starbucks executives and managers

Colin Cochran of the Starbucks location is among the third batch of three that has filed for an electoral campaign. He said that the campaign helped him connect with people far away from Buffalo. Recently, he spoke to workers from the Arizona shop about common complaints such as staffing and scheduling. They also complained about the bees who frequent their shops.

“They literally have the same exact experience we do,” Cochran said.

He expects that following the elections some things will return to normal, “like the number of managers in our store.” But he hopes what started in upstate New York will spread to stores in other states.

“There’s a general level of excitement and comradery and getting to know our partners at a deeper level,” Cochran said. “There are a lot of good things that have come out of the union campaign already.”


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