Starbucks hit with new wave of union wins after spending millions on anti-unionization efforts

"We are ecstatic at our victory today, but we wish that we didn't have to go through this," organizer says

Published April 8, 2022 3:01PM (EDT)

Starbucks baristas and supporters protest outside a Manhattan Starbucks (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Starbucks baristas and supporters protest outside a Manhattan Starbucks (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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The wave of Starbucks worker organization continued to sweep the U.S. this week as employees of the global coffee chain voted to unionize in three New York stores and took steps to form unions in numerous other states.

On Thursday, three upstate New York Starbucks—two in Rochester and one in Buffalo—voted to unionize. In Rochester, workers at a new Starbucks in the Whole Foods Plaza on Monroe Avenue voted 10-3 for a union, while the tally was 13-11 at the company's Mount Hope location, according to WXXI.

"We are overjoyed," Rochester organizer Hayleigh Fagan said in a statement. "This is what it's all about. Partners truly becoming partners. Throughout this process there has been nothing I've come to appreciate more than every partner standing next to me, every partner so courageously advocating for themselves."

Meanwhile in Buffalo, the vote was 18-1 in favor of forming a union at a downtown Starbucks on the corner of Delaware Avenue and Chippewa Street, making that location the sixth local branch of the coffee chain to unionize, Spectrum News 1 reports.

The overwhelmingly lopsided Buffalo vote came despite Starbucks' efforts to thwart the unionization.

"Starbucks has continuously used our store for their union-busting media," said Rose Doherty, a barista at that location. "They stay in the hotels across from our store that none of us can afford. They send the president of Starbucks North America to yell at closing shifts for not calling in partners to help with an under-scheduled closing."

Doherty added that "Starbucks has continuously tried to make our store an uncomfortable and uncaring place, but we fought through it as partners and family. We are ecstatic at our victory today, but we wish that we didn't have to go through this, and call on Starbucks to sign the fair election principles so no other store has to go through the heinous treatment we endured."

From Illinois to ColoradoMassachusetts, New Jersey, and other states, Starbucks workers this week also moved to form unions.

"I think that we are going to continue to see this momentum," Kathy Hanshew, manager of the Chicago and Midwest Joint Board of Workers United and the international vice president of Workers United, the Service Employees International Union affiliate representing the Starbucks workers, told the Chicago Tribune. "I think it speaks to the service sector industry in and of itself and a lot of the challenges of working within that industry."

The Starbucks union wave comes amid a nationwide surge in worker organization. Last week, employees of an Amazon warehouse succeeded in forming the first union in the e-commerce giant's history, while ballots are currently being counted after workers at the company's Bessemer, Alabama facility held a union vote.

Workers United says 14 Starbucks have voted on unionization—with just one location failing to form a union—while 180 other stores in 29 states have filed paperwork to organize.

This week's union victories follow workers at a flagship Starbucks in New York City voting 46-36 to unionize.

There have also been setbacks, mostly in the form of corporate retaliation against workers seeking to organize. On Monday, Laila Dalton, an outspoken leader of her Phoenix store's unionization drive, said she was fired after recording reprimands from her managers that she and coworkers say increased along with her organizing activity.

"My heart is broken. I work soo hard," Dalton tweeted after her termination, optimistically adding that "my store will still win the election! We will unionize!"

By Brett Wilkins

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