Knoxville Starbucks workers celebrate union win despite company challenge

Knoxville, Tennessee - Yet another Starbucks location appears poised to join the ranks of unionized stores – as soon as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) resolves the company's challenge to one of the ballots.

Starbucks baristas in Knoxville celebrate after their union election ballots were tallied by the NLRB.
Starbucks baristas in Knoxville celebrate after their union election ballots were tallied by the NLRB.  © Screenshot/Facebook/SBWorkersUnited

Starbucks workers in Knoxville, Tennessee, joined together on Tuesday as ballots were counted in their union vote. They first filed for an election with the NLRB in December.

There were big celebrations as results came in 8-7 in favor of unionizing, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

But Starbucks challenged a final ballot as yet unopened, arguing that because it came from an assistant store manager, it should not count.

Workers United Southern Region Director Chris Baumann said the NLRB will rule on the challenge at a hearing in two weeks.

Union supporters need a simple majority plus one to win. That means that if the unopened ballot is allowed to go through but is not in favor of the union, the effort will have failed.

Nevertheless, workers seem confident they have the numbers they need to unionize. At a press conference after the count, Maggie Carter, a local organizing committee member, said, "Despite all of corporate’s aggressive, union-busting tactics throughout this entire campaign, thankfully workers' rights here in Knoxville have prevailed."

Starbucks Workers United also declared victory on Twitter, writing, "The Merchants Drive Starbucks in Knoxville, Tennessee just WON their union vote and will become the first unionized Starbucks store in the south."

If the results go in their favor, the Knoxville location would become the ninth unionized Starbucks in the US.

Cover photo: Screenshot/Facebook/SBWorkersUnited

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