In New York State one of the Staff at Starbucks coffee shop has voted to establish the first labour union at one of the chain’s own stores since the 1980s.
Out of a staff of 27, 19 voted in favor at Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo. Despite the small numbers involved, the vote is likely to rattle the giant coffee chain brand. Starbucks had pulled out all the stops to persuade staff to vote against unionising, including flying in top executives. Campaigners for the union gathered in Buffalo to watch the vote be counted via Zoom and cheered as the result was announced. However, staff at a second Buffalo store voted against establishing a union. The vote at a third is not yet resolved as some of the ballots are under review. In all, about 100 baristas and supervisors took part. In August, Starbucks workers in Buffalo began the campaign to unionise, saying they were overworked, but not listened to by the company.
While the mobile app, in particular, has added to their workload, they said, by enabling multiple complicated orders to arrive in quick succession, which they are then under time pressure to fulfill. The vote could set a precedent at the coffee chain, which has more than 8,000 company-owned stores across the US, none of which have been unionised since the 1980s. Staff at three further locations in Buffalo and one store in Arizona have already applied to unionise.
Starbucks had said having to deal with a union would complicate the company’s ability to respond quickly to its workers’ needs.”We want every partner to love working at Starbucks. We will keep finding new and better ways to continue leading on wages and benefits, improve our listening and active partnership, and keep building a company that matters,” Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks North America, said in a letter to Starbucks employees after the vote.