Starbucks store officially unionized in New York with certification

Starbucks workers speak to the media after union vote in Buffalo, New York
FILE PHOTO: Starbucks workers speak to the media after union vote in Buffalo, New York, U.S., December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario

Starbucks Corp will be headed to the bargaining table at its first officially unionized corporate-owned U.S. location after the National Labor Relations Board on Friday certified the results of a vote to unionize.

Employees at one Buffalo, New York area store on Elmwood Avenue voted last week to join Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

Starbucks, which has not had unionized employees anywhere in the United States for years, did not object to the Elmwood results, the NLRB confirmed.

“We remain committed to supporting our partners and are considering all options that will best protect the work flexibility, transferability and equitable benefits of all our partners,” a Starbucks spokesperson told Reuters.

Baristas and shift supervisors at another location rejected the union, which has challenged those results. The outcome at a third location is still being determined as several ballots are under review.

Starbucks repeatedly challenged aspects of the NLRB election along the way, including arguing unsuccessfully that the entire Buffalo market of about 20 cafes should all have to vote at the same time, which would have made it more difficult for the union to organize at each location.

Starbucks had a handful of unionized U.S. locations decades ago, but they eventually decertified. More than 1,000 workers at West Coast Starbucks kiosks inside grocery stores are United Food and Commercial Workers members, but they are franchisee – not Starbucks – employees.