Starbucks workers in Buffalo win first unionized store in the country!

Buffalo, New York – Starbucks workers in Buffalo succeeded in creating the company's first unionized store in the US on Thursday!

Starbucks Workers United organizers gather together to watch the counting of votes in their union election.
Starbucks Workers United organizers gather together to watch the counting of votes in their union election.  © Screenshot/Twitter/SBWorkersUnited

People from around the country tuned in as a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional representative counted the ballots in Starbucks' historic union vote live over Zoom on Thursday at 1:00 PM EST.

Each of the three Starbucks stores in question voted independently. That meant that if union supporters at any one of the stores won 51% of their own vote, they would succeed in becoming the first unionized Starbucks location in the nation.

The dream came true for the Elmwood store, which delivered a 19-8 victory for unionization!

But things got stickier when it came time to count ballots at the Camp Road and Genesee Street locations.

At the former store, the vote count came in 12-8 in favor of the no's, with one ballot deemed void and two challenged.

But the union representative jumped in to ask about several ballots he believed weren't there at the time of the count but had been dropped off at the NLRB office before the deadline. Because tabulation had already begun, the NLRB rep could not do anything about the ballots alleged missing at that time.

If those three ballots were cast in favor of the union, they would be enough to delay an official announcement until after the challenges are resolved at a later date.

The union rep said they planned to follow through on the NLRB suggestion to file an official objection to the Camp Road election result.

When it came to the Genesee Street store, workers voted 15-7 in favor of unionizing. But there were also an additional seven ballots that were challenged.

Six of those challenges came from the union supporters, who claimed the workers in question were not actually employed at the store where they were voting.

Starbucks has been accused of shifting workers to the voting locations as a means of manipulating the election result.

Because the challenges are enough to potentially impact the outcome of the election, a decision for the third Starbucks location is still pending.

A big win for the labor movement

Starbucks workers in Buffalo rally in support of a union on Labor Day 2021.
Starbucks workers in Buffalo rally in support of a union on Labor Day 2021.  © Screenshot/Facebook/SBWorkersUnited

The result at the Elmwood store is a victory for labor organizers across the country, proving that when workers join forces, they can overcome relentless corporate efforts to limit their collective power.

The Starbucks unionization campaign has been plagued by blatant union-busting attempts on behalf of the company.

From anti-union meetings to direct text and email messages to employees, Starbucks seemed willing to stop at nothing in their attempt to suppress the union vote.

But workers persisted in their campaign despite the corporate pushback, winning support not just from their local community but from people across the nation.

They also received a boost from high-profile politicians like Senators Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The organizers' efforts have also inspired other stores to pursue a similar path. Three more Starbucks locations in the area have already filed for their own union election, and another store in Mesa, Arizona, has submitted a petition to the NLRB.

That means that Buffalo is the first, but it may not be the last city to have a unionized Starbucks.

Cover photo: Screenshot/Twitter/SBWorkersUnited

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