Buffalo, N.Y. - Starbucks Workers United, the union organized by Buffalo partners, is looking forward to making labor history next week when we win the first unionized Starbucks out of over 8,000 corporate locations. Heading into the final week of the mail-in vote, we are seeing heartwarming support from the community and across the country, including from high-profile figures.
Yesterday, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders met with partners to tell us we have his support in our fight to overcome corporate union-busting and bargain a contract that partners and Starbucks can alike be proud of. Michelle Eisen, an 11-year partner at the Elmwood Ave. location, says, “I want Starbucks to go back to being the company I started with, the one I was proud to work for. With our election victory, Starbucks has an opportunity to let union-busting bygones be bygones, sit down with us as partners, and negotiate the first-ever Starbucks union contract, which fits with Starbucks’ history of being a socially conscious company.”
Starbucks Workers United wants to thank Buffalo for the overwhelming community support: names like “Union Yes” and “Solidarity” on mobile orders, customers wishing us good luck and leaving generous tips, and yard signs proudly displayed at homes throughout the city.
During the past few days, in a last-ditch attempt at union-busting, Starbucks managers are individually pressuring workers whom they think will vote no to get their ballots in. From the beginning of our union campaign, Starbucks has fought against us by closing stores, using legal delays to stall and try to prevent partners from voting, and bringing in scores of managers and executives from around the country to spy and disrupt. One of these district managers, a member of Starbucks’ self-proclaimed “Buffalo SWAT Team,” acknowledged on tape that she had come to Buffalo to try to “save” it from the union, that pro-union partners are “sucking the life” out of her, and that no one should be jealous of her trips to Buffalo because “it’s not Rockefeller Center.”
Brittany Harrison, who released those tapes, was a store manager in Mesa, Arizona. Brittany blew the whistle because she was concerned that she and her coworkers were being forced to engage in illegal union-busting and upset that partners’ right to organize was not being respected. Faced with pressure and intimidation from corporate while battling leukemia, she ultimately left her job. The true nature of Starbucks and how they treat their so-called partners is one reason why her store has decided they, too, want a union. They have filed for an election with the NLRB. A GoFundMe page organized by Starbucks Workers United has raised $20,000 to support Brittany.
On November 9th, three additional Buffalo stores filed for union elections. Once again, Starbucks is attempting to stop partners from voting. They are using the same strategy to stop the vote that the NLRB threw out last month. The NLRB already reaffirmed that workers have the right to store-level votes under the law, and we expect to win this challenge as well.
Union attorney Ian Hayes commented: “Starbucks’ attempts to stop partners from holding votes at the store level have no basis in the law. The NLRB regional office decided in October that none of the arguments the company raised had any validity, and ordered store-level votes. Now, the company is using the same failed arguments to oppose votes at the three newest stores where partners filed petitions. This is nothing more than a transparent strategy to slow down the voting process and give the company more time to try to harass partners.” Despite this, Starbucks Workers United is more certain than ever that we will win a union next week and hope to begin a smooth process of bargaining our first contract.
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