Efforts to consolidate Starbucks stores face the first major challenges, despite corporate resistance.
The National Labor Relations Commission will count votes from union elections held at three separate Starbucks stores in the Buffalo region of New York on Thursday. Since last month, about 111 Starbucks workers from three stores have been eligible to vote by mail.
If a majority of workers in any of these locations vote for the union, they could become the first union representative US Starbucks store in the company’s 50-year history.
A “yes” vote could also accelerate union activity at other Starbucks stores in the United States. Already, three stores in Buffalo and one in Mesa, Arizona have petitioned the Labor Relations Commission for their union elections. These proceedings are pending.
Union supporters of the first three Buffalo stores filed a petition with the Labor Relations Commission in August seeking representatives of Workers United, a member of the Service Employees International Union. Those workers say that Starbucks stores had chronic problems such as staff shortages and equipment defects even before the pandemic. They want more information about payments and store operations.
“We’re not accountable right now, needless to say,” said union organizer Casey Moore, who has been working at Starbucks in the Buffalo region for about six months. “If you have a union, you can actually sit at the table and say,” This is what we want. ” “
Starbucks claims that its 8,000 US stores work best when working directly with employees called “partners.” According to Starbucks, many employees in the Buffalo region work in multiple stores on demand and want the flexibility to move between stores.
Starbucks requested the Labor Relations Commission to cast one vote at all 20 stores in the Buffalo region, but the Board rejected the request, saying that per-store voting was appropriate under labor law.
In a letter to Starbucks US employees this week, Starbucks President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson reiterated the company’s desire to include all stores in the Buffalo region in the union’s vote.
“While recognizing that this creates some uncertainty, we respect the ongoing process and, regardless of the outcome of these elections, we adhere to our mission and values. Will continue to be, “Johnson wrote.
Johnson also reminded employees of the company’s generous benefits, including paid parents and sick leave at Arizona State University, and free college tuition. At the end of last month, the company also announced a salary increase, saying that all US workers would earn at least $ 15 an hour and up to $ 23 by next summer.
But union supporters say Starbucks can do much more.
Independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said on Twitter recently, “If Starbucks can find money to pay CEO close to $ 15 million, he will pay workers decent allowances and decent wages. I think I can afford it. ” director. Sanders held a virtual town hall earlier this week with Buffalo Starbucks workers.
Johnson received $ 14.7 million in salaries and stock rewards during the company’s fiscal year 2020.
Starbucks or unions can challenge individual votes in elections, which can delay the Labor Relations Commission certification process. However, if the vote is approved, Starbucks is legally required to initiate the process of collective bargaining with the Workers’ Union and any of the three stores voting for the union, and Cornell University’s labor relations. Kathy Clayton, director of the Buffalo Joint Laboratory, said. ..
In some cases, the company closed the place instead of dealing with the union. But for retailers like Starbucks, it’s difficult because it’s illegal to close one store and then open another nearby, Clayton said.
Starbucks Shows Willingness to Negotiate Outside the United States In Victoria, Canada, Starbucks store workers voted for the union in August 2020. It took about a year for Starbucks and the United Steelworkers to reach a collective negotiation agreement. In July.
Trade union votes were held during a period of intensifying labor disputes in the United States. Kellogg’s strike grain workers declined to offer a new contract earlier this week. Thousands of workers deere & Co early this fall. I went on strike. And the US Labor Relations Commission recently approved a redo of the union vote at the Amazon warehouse in Alabama. The company pressured workers to vote against the union.
Labor shortages give workers a rare advantage in wage negotiations. Dangraph, director of the Higgins Labor Program at the University of Notre Dame, said the pandemic gave him time and space to rethink what many workers are looking for in their work.
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Starbucks faces union testing when workers’ ballots are counted | WGN Radio 720
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