Starbucks workers tally second union vote victory after ruling

·3 min read

Starbucks (SBUX) baristas in upstate New York became the second store to unionize, both in the Buffalo area, adding momentum to an emerging effort for national recognition.

The National Labor Relations Board certified the results of last month's election for the Genesee Street store in Buffalo, NY. Results at that coffee shop were inconclusive after fifteen workers voted in favor of unionizing, while 9 voted against and seven ballots were challenged, delaying the results.

On Monday, an acting regional director for the NLRB ruled against the inclusion of seven unopened ballots, whose eligibility had been contested, giving the union with another win by a vote of 15 to 9.

“While most of the world saw us win on December 9th, today is a special day — today we put an end to Starbucks’ delay attempts and formed our union at the Genesee Starbucks,” Lexi Rizzo, a shift supervisor at the location, said in a statement provided to Yahoo Finance.

Starbucks partners react during a union vote in Buffalo, New York, U.S., December 9, 2021.  REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario
Starbucks partners react during a union vote in Buffalo, New York, U.S., December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario

“Finally, the partners feel we have a voice at our workplace — this is an emotional day for all partners here who have fought so hard to make our voices heard in the work we do," the statement added. "Now we’re asking the same thing Elmwood is asking — we want a fair contract and most importantly we demand that Starbucks stop their union busting in Buffalo and across the nation immediately. No other partners should have to endure what we went through to have a voice on the job."

The coffee giant now has the option to file an appeal within the next 10 days, which would formally ask NLRB members in Washington review the ruling made by the regional director.

A Starbucks spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that the 50-year-old company is evaluating their options in terms of whether or not they will appeal.

The spokesperson noted that the company’s position has not changed and believes that their success is built in working together and doesn’t believe that a union is necessary for them to achieve that success.

The new labor foothold has expanded across the country: Baristas in Knoxville, Tennessee, Boston, Broomfield, Colorado, Chicago, Arizona, and even the company’s hometown of Seattle have filed for unionization in late December and early January.

Shares of Starbucks stock slipped 1.43% to $106.03 Monday. Analysts on Wall Street are keeping a close eye on the unionization movement. 

“This story should continue to receive airtime as the process continues,” MKM partners executive director Brett Levy wrote in a note to clients.

As the union effort spreads, Levy noted some questions in focus: “Will this become a more common occurrence? Will it change the cost structure? Will it materially impact the execution of operating models?”

Levy noted that the answers are unknown and unlikely to be answered for quite some time.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv

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