Press Release

Starbucks Partners, Workers United Win First Unionized Starbucks in U. S.

By Workers United

BUFFALO, NY - Today, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) counted the mail-in ballots for three stores in Buffalo. Over three months after the partners at these stores filed for elections, the Elmwood store partners have won their union, and the partners from two other stores await results in contested counts.

“This is a historic moment in time,” said Michelle Eisen, a barista and 11-year partner at the Elmwood store. “This win is the first step in changing what it means to be a partner at Starbucks, and what it means to work in the service industry more broadly. With a union, we now have the ability to negotiate a contract that holds Starbucks accountable to be the company we know it can be, and gives us a real voice in our workplace.” 

Elmwood’s victory is monumental for Starbucks partners, who have now won the first unionized store out of over 8,000 Starbucks corporate stores in the United States. Partners at Elmwood voted 18 to 8 in favor of a union.

In response to their historic win, Elmwood partners are asking Starbucks to sign the “Starbucks Agreement for Equity & Sustainability,” (included below). This agreement primarily asks Starbucks to recognize the union, agree to stop interfering in future union efforts, and bargain with partners in good faith to foster the company’s principles of equity, diversity, and sustainability.  

Despite Starbucks’ attempt to flood their voting list with partners who did not actually work at the Genesee store, 15 partners voted in favor of a union, and 9 voted against. Seven ballots are being contested, and these could tip the decision either way. But partners at the Genesee location are confident that the NLRB will recognize their win. Partners at Camp Road, which was entirely disrupted during the last three months, expressed optimism that the NLRB will step in and hold the company accountable for their union-busting.

“It only takes one to break Starbucks’ anti-union front and show what we can do when we stand together,” said Lexi Rizzo, a shift supervisor at the Genesee St. store. “I cannot describe how good this victory feels.”

Starbucks' anti-union campaign is under investigation by the NLRB after the union filed charges in November.

Despite Starbucks’ resistance to union efforts, partners are hoping that Starbucks will now work with the unionized stores and sit down at the bargaining table to negotiate a contract in good faith. “I am confident that Starbucks will do the right thing and negotiate a contract that works for both the company and for us–the partners,” says Cortlin Harrison, a barista at the unionized Elmwood location.

“I want to welcome our newest members of Workers United,” said Lynne Fox, International President of Workers United, an SEIU affiliate. “This campaign was driven by the partners and they deserve all the credit for their courage, and determination to fight for the collective interest of their colleagues.”

Workers United, the parent company that will be representing Starbucks Workers United, represents more than 86,000 workers in the apparel, laundry, food service, hospitality, non-profits, warehouse distribution and manufacturing industries in the United States and Canada. The organization is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA.


Starbucks Agreement for Equity and Sustainability 

1. Starbucks recognizes Starbucks Workers United at its unionized locations in Buffalo, NY.

2. Starbucks will bargain partner-to-partner, in good faith and without delay, for a contract that values the diverse voices of partners and the mission of Starbucks.

3. Starbucks will respect the right to organize for partners in all of its stores and will refrain from union-busting.

4. Starbucks and Starbucks Workers United commit to a relationship that will foster equity, sustainability, and social justice while inspiring and nurturing the human spirit and delivering the Starbucks experience to customers and partners alike.



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