Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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NPR
Starbucks workers form their 1st union in the U.S. in a big win for labor

Updated December 9, 20213:28 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered
Alina Selyukh

Starbucks workers have voted to form their first U.S. union.

Workers from one store in Buffalo, N.Y., voted to unionize, in a watershed moment for Starbucks, which operates 8,953 stores in the United States.

Three Buffalo-area stores held separate union elections. Baristas and shift supervisors from one store voted to unionize 19-8, while workers from the second store rejected unionization 12-8.

The third store failed to reach a verdict and faces a legal battle. There, 15 votes were cast for unionization and 9 against, while 7 votes were challenged. Most of the challenges came from the union, which argued that some workers who voted weren't regular employees at the location.

The election marks one of the highest-profile union wins for U.S. restaurant workers, which are among the least unionized in the country.

Starbucks workers who voted to unionize will join Workers United, affiliated with the massive Service Employees International Union.

3 more Buffalo stores and 1 in Arizona are also trying to unionize

Starbucks has promoted its reputation as a progressive employer with generous benefits, arguing that a union is not necessary.

In fact, Starbucks has fought off organizing attempts in New York City and Philadelphia. Decades earlier, in the 1980s, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union for a while represented some Starbucks staff. That union still represents workers at some locations run by grocery stores and not directly by Starbucks.

Then, last year, workers at a corporate-run Starbucks store in Canada unionized. And now, three additional locations in the Buffalo area and one in Arizona are pursuing a union.

"I think a unionized Starbucks restaurant will demonstrate to workers ... that it's not easy, but they can do it," said Rebecca Givan, a labor studies professor at Rutgers University. "We will likely see many, many more organizing drives."

In a Thursday letter to staff shared with NPR, Starbucks North America President Rossann Williams said for now, the union results entail "no immediate changes."

"The vote outcomes will not change our shared purpose or how we will show up for each other," she wrote. "We want to protect partner flexibility, transferability and benefits across all stores in a market or a district because we know that's important to partners."

Buffalo workers get nationwide attention

The Buffalo vote garnered nationwide attention and support from key labor figures such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Starbucks headquarters also responded to the drive by flying a wave of corporate executives into Buffalo, including the Williams and also legendary former CEO Howard Schultz.

The pro-union Starbucks workers advocated for better staffing, training and pay, including steady wage increases for workers who stay with the company for years only to discover their pay is not much more than that of new hires.

Hours before federal officials set the union vote for Buffalo stores, Starbucks announced it would raise its starting pay to $15 an hour and boost wages for staff employed longer than two and five years, plus make changes to its training and scheduling.

Buffalo workers later accused Starbucks of breaking the law by interfering with their labor organizing. They filed a federal labor charge, saying the chain was "engaging in a campaign of threats, intimidation, surveillance" and other illegal activity in response to their efforts to unionize.

Starbucks denied those allegations and said it complies with all labor-organizing laws and guidelines.

Starbucks had also argued that all 20 stores in the Buffalo area should vote in the union election, rather than three individual stores, noting that workers can pick up shifts at different stores. Federal labor officials repeatedly disagreed, finding each store to be fairly autonomous and declining to delay the election or the vote count over the matter.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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Fantastic news. It's a promising time for labour, and every step like this is heartening.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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Starbucks will now charge more for their overpriced coffee, and blame it on the union.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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No one is forced to buy Starbuck's coffee (or anything else of theirs).
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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I'm growing accustomed to the taste of Starbucks (never thought I'd say that) now that I've been getting it for free over the last seven months. Funny how that works. Would probably continue to drink it if the gravy train derails.

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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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Broomstick wrote: 2021-12-11 06:31pm No one is forced to buy Starbuck's coffee (or anything else of theirs).
Indeed, but all other things being equal, I'll always buy from a union shop as opposed to a non-union one.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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What are the odds Starbucks just closes the union stores due to “profitability issues”? Or whatever excuse they can come up with?
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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Isn't that the Walmart playbook? "Oh, Site A unionised, too bad we've opened another store nearby and got rid of Site A"?
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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I have never even seen a starbucks in real life. And honestly the idea of buying coffee on the reg feels alien and weird to me. Almost all coffee I drink I brew myself.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

Post by Soontir C'boath »

Another Starbucks store in Buffalo has unionized and there are other locations across the country that are doing so as well. NBCNY

Very encouraging to see efforts like this happening as well as the victories from the Kellogg's workers and locally on my end at Columbia University among others. Amazon workers in Alabama will vote again next month to unionize or not as well.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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Looks like a tight labour market is leading to increased bargaining power.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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bobalot wrote: 2022-01-21 04:46am Looks like a tight labour market is leading to increased bargaining power.
Expect a crackdown as soon as possible. Like once there's enough republicans are in power. This will, of course, be followed by lots of flag waving, lionizing of the storm troopers used to break up strikes, and mournful bugle music as sickeningly wealthy and well connected fucking old people camping out in offices they bought wax poetic about the beauty and equality of unregulated business and how all unions are communism.

Then watch the horde of mindless primates lap it all up with joyous shouts of "USA! USA!"
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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As soon as possible may no longer include while its possible. Covid has given workers unprecedented powers and Covid doesn't look like its going away anytime soon.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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NPR
Starbucks union push spreads to 54 stores in 19 states

January 31, 20224:36 PM ET
Alina Selyukh

Starbucks is facing a fast-growing union campaign just weeks after the first U.S. corporate store unionized in Buffalo, N.Y.

Employees at 54 stores in 19 states are pursuing union elections, according to organizers. Fifteen of those stores joined the union drive on Monday, petitioning the federal labor officials to set a vote. The filing coincides with the start of contract negotiations between Starbucks and unionized workers in Buffalo.

Last month, Starbucks workers at three New York stores held union elections. A majority voted in favor at two of the three locations, unionizing 64 workers. Now, some 30 Starbucks workers in Mesa, Ariz., are wrapping up their own union election by mail. Employees at three more Buffalo-area locations also begin voting this week.

Altogether, the union-election push affects only a fraction of almost 9,000 U.S. stores run by Starbucks. But the quick and high-profile first union victory in Buffalo became a watershed moment for the company, especially as restaurant workers are among the country's least unionized.

As the union push spreads, labor experts say it will be harder for Starbucks to fight each one individually. They also say the high profile of Starbucks helps raise union awareness among regular Americans at a time when union membership has matched historic lows.

In the coming weeks, another potentially groundbreaking union push will proceed at Amazon, where thousands of Alabama warehouse workers will re-vote on unionization and their colleagues on Staten Island may hold their own union election.

At Starbucks, the pro-union workers have advocated for better staffing, training and pay, seeking a direct line to company management. Buffalo workers have joined Workers United, affiliated with the massive Service Employees International Union.

Contract negotiations present the next challenges for the labor group, as collective bargaining agreements can take months to reach. In Canada, Starbucks workers reached a three-year contract with the company in June 2021 after voting to join the United Steelworkers in August 2020.

A Starbucks representative declined to comment on Monday's developments. In a December letter to staff, the company's North America president said "we do not want a union between us as partners" but added that the company would "bargain in good faith."

Hours before federal officials set the union vote for Buffalo stores, Starbucks announced it would raise its starting pay to $15 an hour and boost wages for staff employed longer than two years and five years, plus make changes to its training and scheduling.

In the past, the coffee chain has fought off organizing attempts in New York City and Philadelphia. In the 1980s, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union for a while represented some Starbucks staff. That union still represents workers at some locations run by grocery stores and not directly by Starbucks.

In the ongoing union vote in Arizona, Starbucks filed an appeal with federal labor officials to block the vote tally, arguing that all locations in the area should vote in the union election, rather than one individual store. The company lost similar appeals during union elections in New York.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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Gandalf wrote: 2021-12-09 10:06pm Fantastic news. It's a promising time for labour, and every step like this is heartening.
This won't last long because automation has been hitting its stride. This will only accelerate RnD into automation.

... so, yeah.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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GrosseAdmiralFox wrote: 2022-02-14 05:52pm
Gandalf wrote: 2021-12-09 10:06pm Fantastic news. It's a promising time for labour, and every step like this is heartening.
This won't last long because automation has been hitting its stride. This will only accelerate RnD into automation.

... so, yeah.
And/Therefore?
"Oh no, oh yeah, tell me how can it be so fair
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Electric shocking body rocking beat streeting me to death"

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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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GrosseAdmiralFox wrote: 2022-02-14 05:52pm This won't last long because automation has been hitting its stride. This will only accelerate RnD into automation.

... so, yeah.
Hah. Doesn't matter. Turns out that service jobs like these can't be effectively automated while still making a profit. The past two years have been the perfect time for that shift to happen. If the technology was adequate employers like Starbucks would already have made the switch. They haven't because they can't, and handwaving about how future advances will change that is pure speculation.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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It's also worth noting that Starbucks (at least the ones I've seen) are based on the service experience. It's you, the custom order, the barista and their beverage artistry.

We're a while away from automating that.
"Oh no, oh yeah, tell me how can it be so fair
That we dying younger hiding from the police man over there
Just for breathing in the air they wanna leave me in the chair
Electric shocking body rocking beat streeting me to death"

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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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Gandalf wrote: 2022-02-14 08:25pm It's also worth noting that Starbucks (at least the ones I've seen) are based on the service experience. It's you, the custom order, the barista and their beverage artistry.

We're a while away from automating that.
Yeah that's part of what I was getting at with 'service jobs like these'. I've seen entire convenience stores that are set up to let you scan a QR code on the door with your phone, walk in, grab stuff and pay 24/7 without anyone working there to interact with. That's definitely possible, but if people want a vending machine they aren't going to a restaurant or cafe. And then there's cleaning, dealing with wrong orders, etc.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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GrosseAdmiralFox wrote: 2022-02-14 05:52pm
Gandalf wrote: 2021-12-09 10:06pm Fantastic news. It's a promising time for labour, and every step like this is heartening.
This won't last long because automation has been hitting its stride. This will only accelerate RnD into automation.

... so, yeah.
What do you think the workers should have done instead ?
Ralin wrote: 2022-02-14 08:36pmYeah that's part of what I was getting at with 'service jobs like these'. I've seen entire convenience stores that are set up to let you scan a QR code on the door with your phone, walk in, grab stuff and pay 24/7 without anyone working there to interact with. That's definitely possible, but if people want a vending machine they aren't going to a restaurant or cafe. And then there's cleaning, dealing with wrong orders, etc.
Here's a video about an Amazon run one of those. Just in case anyone is wondering how they operate.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

Post by Soontir C'boath »

GrosseAdmiralFox wrote: 2022-02-14 05:52pm
Gandalf wrote: 2021-12-09 10:06pm Fantastic news. It's a promising time for labour, and every step like this is heartening.
This won't last long because automation has been hitting its stride. This will only accelerate RnD into automation.

... so, yeah.
We've been threatened with the idea of automation for years and yet it's funny how other countries seem to be able to provide decent livable wages, but America is the exception. Hmmm. If your stance is, "you're replacable", and not "Oh shit, I am human and I should be worried other humans are treated poorly because I might be next", then you're part of the problem. Sooner or later, we'll probably have a robot that can do a better job than a plumber or an electrician or whatever your job is.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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Soontir C'boath wrote: 2022-02-15 02:37pm We've been threatened with the idea of automation for years and yet it's funny how other countries seem to be able to provide decent livable wages, but America is the exception. Hmmm. If your stance is, "you're replacable", and not "Oh shit, I am human and I should be worried other humans are treated poorly because I might be next", then you're part of the problem. Sooner or later, we'll probably have a robot that can do a better job than a plumber or an electrician or whatever your job is.
That hasn't been really the case as of late, thanks to the application of neural networking and computer learning. The reason I'm saying 'you're replaceable' is that I can see the bigger picture and see the futility of this action. Every pro-worker action is only to further the automation rush, killing the jobs anyway.
bilateralrope wrote: 2022-02-14 11:32pm What do you think the workers should have done instead ?
Vote in a Huey Long and his Share Our Wealth program at this point. There isn't any real alternative unless it's something like, oh, hoping that Ghost in the Shell-grade cybernetics and SciFi-grade gene mods get invented within the next half-decade...
Ralin wrote: 2022-02-14 06:57pm Hah. Doesn't matter. Turns out that service jobs like these can't be effectively automated while still making a profit. The past two years have been the perfect time for that shift to happen. If the technology was adequate employers like Starbucks would already have made the switch. They haven't because they can't, and handwaving about how future advances will change that is pure speculation.
Actually, you would be genuinely surprised. Most of this 'complex' work is currently being conquered via a combination of neural networks and breaking down the 'jobs' into their constituent parts.
Gandalf wrote: 2022-02-14 06:26pm And/Therefore?
A certain level of realism is required, and that realism is that the workers have ultimately lost... and everything they do will only hasten or slow how quickly the loss is.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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GrosseAdmiralFox wrote: 2022-02-16 10:44pm
Gandalf wrote: 2022-02-14 06:26pm And/Therefore?
A certain level of realism is required, and that realism is that the workers have ultimately lost... and everything they do will only hasten or slow how quickly the loss is.
I assume there's evidence to back this grand assertion?
"Oh no, oh yeah, tell me how can it be so fair
That we dying younger hiding from the police man over there
Just for breathing in the air they wanna leave me in the chair
Electric shocking body rocking beat streeting me to death"

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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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GrosseAdmiralFox wrote: 2022-02-16 10:44pm Actually, you would be genuinely surprised. Most of this 'complex' work is currently being conquered via a combination of neural networks and breaking down the 'jobs' into their constituent parts.
No, no I wouldn't because none of those things are anywhere near up to the task of replacing service jobs at places like Starbucks, or even McDonalds.

And I'm stone certain you can't give examples proving otherwise. DR5 motherfucker. Put up or shut up.
That hasn't been really the case as of late, thanks to the application of neural networking and computer learning. The reason I'm saying 'you're replaceable' is that I can see the bigger picture and see the futility of this action. Every pro-worker action is only to further the automation rush, killing the jobs anyway.
No it isn't because those jobs can't be effectively automated and the attempts to do so have been laughable failures. Doesn't matter how much they 'rush' towards automation when the technology just doesn't fit the task.
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Re: Buffalo Starbucks Unionizes

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GrosseAdmiralFox wrote: 2022-02-16 10:44pm Vote in a Huey Long and his Share Our Wealth program at this point. There isn't any real alternative unless it's something like, oh, hoping that Ghost in the Shell-grade cybernetics and SciFi-grade gene mods get invented within the next half-decade...
And what should they do while waiting for that to become a viable option ?

Especially when automation isn't a viable option for businesses with current technology. Or that mass automation leading to increased unemployment will make things like a guaranteed basic income more politically viable.
Last edited by bilateralrope on 2022-02-16 11:41pm, edited 2 times in total.
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