Arizona Starbucks Votes To Unionize In First Such Victory Outside New York

Food & Drink

Topline

Employees at a Starbucks store in Mesa, Arizona. voted 25-3 to unionize Friday following 12 days’ delay due to last-minute procedural wrangling, making it the first Starbucks outside the Buffalo area to unionize and dealing a blow to the coffee giant, which has said it does not want workers to unionize.

Key Facts

Workers at the Mesa Starbucks store located on Power Road and Baseline Road expected to count votes February 16, but this was delayed due to an ultimately unsuccessful request for review filed by Starbucks with the National Labor Relations Board, in what union organizers described as “legal delay tactics.”

Some workers at the store accused Starbucks of trying “every trick in the book” to persuade them to vote no, including tearful displays of emotion by a manager that union organizers said made workers feel guilty and scared, according to a statement from the union.

Union organizers further alleged that Starbucks engaged in a hiring spree, taking on about 18 new employees at the Mesa store, in an attempt to dilute the pro-union vote.

Starbucks said Friday it will “respect the process and will bargain in good faith” and that it hoped the union would do likewise.

Employees at another Starbucks store in Mesa plan to vote on unionization by March 18, CNBC reported.

Key Background

Of Starbucks’ over 9,000 company-owned stores in the U.S., just three—including the one in Mesa—have voted to unionize. In November, Workers United filed a complaint against Starbucks, alleging that the company used a “campaign of threats, intimidation, surveillance, solicitation of grievances, and the closing of facilities” to foil organizing efforts. Earlier organizing campaigns failed in the 2000s in New York City and in 2019 in Philadelphia. In 2021, only 1.2% of workers at food service and drinking establishments were unionized compared to 10.3% of all workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The dramatic decline of unionization rates in the U.S.—by about 46% since 1983—is viewed as bad by a narrow majority of Americans, Pew Research Center found. Union membership is a partisan issue, with 76% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents telling Pew they saw the decline of unions as a bad thing, compared to just 45% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

What To Watch For

The Mesa workers’ ballots must now be certified by the NLRB’s regional director, which could take as long as a week, CNBC reported. After that, the union will have to negotiate a contract with the company.

Crucial Quote

“This is another historic moment for Starbucks partners and service industry workers across the country,” said Michelle Hedjuk, a shift supervisor at the Mesa Starbucks store, in a statement.  “This movement started in Buffalo and we’ve now brought it across the country. This movement is truly powered and run by partners. We as partners are demanding a seat at the table and a say in our working conditions. For too long, Starbucks hasn’t lived up to their mission and values and we are holding them accountable.”

Big Number

109. That’s how many Starbucks stores have filed to vote on unionization across 26 states, according to Starbucks Workers United.

Tangent

Three Buffalo-area Starbucks stores that had voted on whether to unionize had their ballots impounded Wednesday pending a decision from the NLRB on a request for review filed by Starbucks.

Further Reading

“Starbucks Workers Vote To Unionize In New York—A 2nd Store Votes No—As Coffee Giant Faces Labor Pressure” (Forbes)

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