Starbucks tells NLRB to let all Buffalo employees vote on union effort

Starbucks tells NLRB to let all Buffalo employees vote on union effort

Coffee giant Starbucks told the National Labor Relations Board that all 450 employees at its Buffalo, New York, market should be allowed to vote, according to a memo Starbucks sent to its affiliates obtained by CNBC.

Starbucks Regional Vice President Alison Peck wrote, “We believe this will make this process fair and respectful for every attendee in Buffalo. This will ensure that you all have the right to vote and the voice you deserve in the process. »» In Note to the Northeast region, Buffalo employees.

The cafe chain is known for calling its employees ‘partners’ and for being among the most progressive benefits in the fast food and restaurant industry, but it faces organizing campaigns at several stores in the Buffalo. Workers involved in the effort said working conditions deteriorated during the pandemic and were seeking a more equitable partnership with the company.

The letter to Buffalo workers also says the company is taking steps to bring the store’s operations back to its standards, including helping employees and resolving store issues quickly.

“Ask us anything – we’re all here to help,” Peck said in the letter. “You have the right to work directly with Starbucks – and if you don’t want to give up that right, you have to vote ‘no’.”

In response to the letter, the organizers, Starbucks Workers United, said: “Starbucks is trying to delay our vote by using legal tactics. The NLRB precedent is that a store is an appropriate entity. We are also organizing one. Try to do. Store and earn the right to be organized in this business.

Starbucks said anything it didn’t deposit with the NLRB was the cause of the delay.

On August 23, Starbucks employees at three Buffalo stores said they would ask the NLRB to hold union elections. The group sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, calling for a fair election without interference, negative impact from management or threats.

The letter states, “Starbucks’ mission is to improve communities one cafe at a time. Honoring the right to organize partners enables the company to fulfill this mission by improving our lives and raising standards across the industry. will gain help.

There are 20 Starbucks stores in Buffalo Market. If successful, the decision to form the consortium would affect the 8,000 stores owned by the coffee giant nationwide and could have a huge impact on the industry as a whole. If there is no agreement between the two parties, the NLRB hearing will be held on September 22.

Petitions were drawn to be filed by the organizers on two additional stores as the five stores would have been grouped together and this would delay the preliminary hearing. This decision prompted organizers to accuse Starbucks of an “anti-union” strategy.

In recent days, Starbucks North America executive vice president Rawson Williams has traveled to Buffalo to conduct listening sessions with activists. A person familiar with her schedule said she will stay in the market for the foreseeable future. Starbucks founder and former CEO Howard Schultz also traveled to Buffalo to hear from partners.

Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges told CNBC: “As the founder of the company, it makes sense that he is in the market to listen and engage directly with our partners to understand what is going on here. and with our partners. “

Starbucks executives have hosted more than 2,000 hearings in US markets over the past year, the company said. Williams has appeared in over 175 seasons. The company has also held weekly meetings with company and retail employees since the start of the pandemic.

Prior to sending her letter to Starbucks, Starbucks Workers United told CNBC in an emailed statement, “Rawson never came to Buffalo before the union campaign started. She didn’t. She didn’t. is in our store and spying on us. And interrupting our work. Starbucks is calling. We are partners, but they are afraid of what true partnership means: empowerment and a voice at the table. If Rossen means he is a partner What about giving importance to “two-partner communication” then we should welcome our union and look forward to negotiating with partners Stop working on the ground every days and call our union ‘third party’. “

Starbucks called the anti-union allegations and the allegations that Williams was spying on workers “clearly bogus.”

“Leaders are in the market to listen to partners, address concerns and take action. We are pro-collaborators, not anti-federal, ”Borges said.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to Twitter Monday to say “Union!” Show your support for this effort by posting a photo of you holding a Starbucks coffee mug with the words on it. is written on it.

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