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Workers in New York Vote to Form First Starbucks Union in the US

Monica Cruz |
This is one of three stores in the same city to vote on a union in recent weeks, part of a larger push to unionize at the multi-billion dollar company

Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York after learning that they are the first to unionize in the country. Photo: Twitter

Workers at the Elmwood Avenue Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York just voted 19-8 to unionize. This is the first of the company’s 8,900 corporate-owned stores in the US to be unionized. Elmwood Avenue is one of three stores in Buffalo to have voted on a union in recent weeks.

Reaction by Starbucks workers reaching a majority in the union vote at the Elmwood Avenue location. It becomes the first unionized shop for the corporation in the US. @WGRZ

— Steve Brown (@WGRZ_SteveBrown) December 9, 2021


The last votes to be counted are for the store on Genesee Street, across from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. This is speculated to be another union yes vote.

The votes come after months of attempts to surveil, intimidate, and coerce workers at each store to vote against the union, including captive audience meetings and prolonged visits from high-level executives.

These tactics might have proven to be effective at the Camp Road store in Buffalo. Some say this store was targeted the most by the company in its effort to stop the union. Many workers were forced out and the mostly-new staff was forced to undergo anti-union training.

Nonetheless, the landslide victory at the Elmwood Avenue store is being hailed as a major win for the entire US labor movement.

Workers will join the SB Workers United, which is part of Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the largest unions in the country.

“It feels surreal and incredibly exciting,” Casey Moore, a barista at one of the unionizing Starbucks, told the Vice tech blog MotherBoard. “I’m so excited to see other baristas at Starbucks and across the service industry say ‘if they can do it, we can do it here too.’ We can change the service industry.”

Now, it is up to the multi-billion dollar company to recognize the union and bargain in good faith on the first contract.

Monica Cruz is a reporter with US-based media outlet Breakthrough News.

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