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Union votes set for three more Buffalo-area Starbucks

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Workers at three more area Starbucks stores, including this one in Amherst, will vote on whether to join a union. 

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Workers at three more Buffalo-area Starbucks stores will get to vote on whether to join a union.

The National Labor Relations Board gave the green light for union elections at Starbucks stores at Walden Avenue and Anderson Road in Cheektowaga; Sheridan Drive and North Bailey Avenue in Amherst; and Transit and French roads in Depew.

The NLRB said ballots will be mailed to workers Jan. 31 and must be returned by Feb. 22. The agency is scheduled to count the ballots Feb. 23.

The votes will be counted separately for each of the three stores. The Cheektowaga and Depew stores each have 31 workers listed as eligible to vote, while the Amherst store has 41 workers eligible to vote.

The new round of elections comes after a Starbucks store on Elmwood Avenue made history in December, when it became the first company-owned Starbucks store in the United States to vote in favor of union representation. The NLRB later confirmed Starbucks Workers United also won an election at a store on Genesee Street in Cheektowaga. The outcome of voting at a third area store, on Camp Road in Hamburg, is unresolved.

The union vote at the Elmwood Avenue store has sparked election drives by workers at Starbucks stores in several other states. The push has attracted national attention, given Starbucks' prominence as a chain with about 9,000 U.S. stores. And the campaigns for elections involve retail workers, a segment of the working population not typically represented by unions.

Starbucks Workers United and the company have been at odds over the election process in Buffalo. The union wanted to conduct elections on a store-by-store basis, while Starbucks has called for allowing workers at all 20 Buffalo-area Starbucks to cast ballots, in a single, combined vote. The NLRB sided with the union in the dispute.

“The labor board was clear in October that we had the right to vote in individual store elections," said Rachel Cohen, a shift supervisor at the Amherst store. "Starbucks knew this but unfortunately decided to once again try to delay the vote in a desperate attempt to stop us from organizing."

Starbucks has said it believes all of its employees in the Buffalo market "deserve the right to vote," challenging the idea of selected stores holding union elections.

Matt Glynn


The Buffalo News: Good Morning, Buffalo

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Related to this story

Workers at the Cheektowaga store on Dec. 9 voted 15-9 in favor of the union, but there were seven challenged ballots – none of which were opened and counted. NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado said Monday those challenges were sustained, keeping the final vote at 15-9 and giving the union the win.

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