The cup was handed to a Starbucks drive-thru in Cheektowaga on December 8.
Lindsay DeDario via Reuters

Starbucks workers in Western New York appear to have notched a historic labor victory on Thursday, forming the first union inside the coffee chain’s U.S. corporate-owned stores.

The new union was known as Starbucks Workers UnitedThe initial vote count for the third round was a victory by.Following a ballot by the National Labor Relations Board, union elections took place for three Buffalo-area stores. Workers voted 19-8 to unionize at one store. The tallies for two other stores were still not available as of this posting.

To make the results official, the board must still certify them. Starbucks could challenge these certifications.

The preliminary count indicates that Starbucks is likely to bargain with at most a dozen customers. more than 200,000 U.S. workers, which it calls “partners.” Starbucks workers who were part of the organizing effort celebrated at their union office in Buffalo and on Twitter.

These votes came after a series of bitter battles between workers from the union and management. Starbucks opened its doors this fall after workers had filed to vote. dispatched outside managers and executivesThe Buffalo area was home to me for several weeks. The company’s famous co-founder, Howard Schultz, even delivered a speech to workers at a local hotel where he tried to discourage them from unionizing.

“The coffee chain has roughly 9,000 corporate stores in the country, none of which have a union.”

Starbucks Workers United called those 11-hour-long efforts union-busting. The company’s counter-campaign certainly doesn’t appear to have accomplished its goal: to nip the nascent organizing effort in the bud. In addition to Thursday’s win, the union filed elections at three other Starbucks locations in Buffalo, one in Mesa and another in Arizona. The NLRB has yet not scheduled those votes.

Starbucks currently has approximately 9000 corporate-owned shops in the U.S. Starbucks licenses thousands of additional stores that are owned by corporate entities in the United States. However, the union has not been established in any of its stores.

Jaz Brisack is a Buffalo-based barista who was also a strong supporter of unions. She was highly critical of the company’s decision to send in outside management to the stores that were considering unionization, saying it was simply meant to pressure them to vote “no.”

“I always thought Starbucks likes money more than they hate unions,” Brisack told HuffPost in October. “But [now] I think Starbucks hates unions more than they like money.”

The workers who’ve unionized represent just a tiny fraction of Starbucks’ workforce, but their campaign holds far more significance than the numbers would suggest. Starbucks is the most recognizable coffee chain in the world and hasn’t dealt with a U.S. union since its early days as a Seattle coffee brand. The organizers hope that the movement will reach other Starbucks locations as well as other giants in the service sector who have so far remained union-free.

In a townhall, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), summarised these hopes and dreams livestream he held with Starbucks workers earlier this week, saying an election victory would be “a major breakthrough — not only for Starbucks employees, but for all workers in the low-wage service industry as a whole.”

To date, the U.S. government has not accepted union membership. just 6.3%Although the numbers in government are greater, they still have a lot of people who support them. Starbucks has become more aggressive against organizing efforts to prevent unions from entering their premises. Starbucks Workers United brought charges against the NLRB alleging that the company illegally surveilled and coerced them. This claim was denied by the company.

Starbucks Workers United members meet at their office in Buffalo, New York, Dec. 7.
Starbucks Workers United members gather at their Buffalo office, New York on December 7.
Lindsay DeDario via Reuters

Starbucks hired Littler Mendelson, a leading management-side law company to fight the organizing efforts. The company sought to enlarge the proposed bargaining unit by including stores throughout the Buffalo region, a move that, if successful, may have diluted the union’s support and forced it to broaden its organizing. Those legal efforts by Starbucks were shot down by the NLRB’s board, which now has a Democratic majority more friendly to workers.

The NLRB can confirm election results. Workers who have successfully unionized face yet another challenge: securing a new collective bargaining arrangement. These contracts can be difficult to secure and may take many years. Not all workers win. Starbucks is not willing to give workers substantial pay increases, better benefits or any other improvement in order to avoid workers unionizing elsewhere.

Starbucks’ union will join Workers United. It is an affiliate of 2 million members Service Employees International Union. Fight for $15Campaign that raised the wages of workers in low-wage sectors such as fast food. Richard Bensinger (a long-standing organizer and former AFL-CIO labor union federation organizing director) advised the core group of workers who are pro-union.

HuffPost was informed by Bensinger that he believed at least one election was essential in order for the company to be able to hold its ground and show other workers it is possible to win.

“It’s going beyond Buffalo,” Bensinger predicted.


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