Starbuck workers Unionization win!
Starbucks Corp café workers in Mesa, Arizona, won the right to join a workers union, as the first company-owned US location, outside of New York State to do so. Employees voted 25-to-3 to join Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, as per a live-streamed ballot count conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB.) Only three out of the company’s roughly 9,000 U.S. locations voted to join the Union, but a stream of other stores are waiting in line behind them. In the last six months, employees at over 100 stores in around 26 states have petitioned to the NLRB to conduct union elections in their locations, including at the company’s flagship New York and Seattle (Starbucks’ hometown) Reserve Roastery stores. The union is also winning legal arguments. Their February ballot had to be rescheduled after Starbucks chose to challenge election procedures but lost. Starbucks would respect the process and be guided by company’s principles, hoping that the union did the same. Two stores in Buffalo, New York, joined the union and have begun negotiating contracts. Workers at a third location in the city voted down the union, and three other stores there even had their ballots impounded pending resolution of Starbucks’ appeal.
Workers United Battle on
The battle between Starbucks and Workers United is getting somewhat murkier. At some point, the union’s effort to move in store by store will have to evolve into a coordinated strategy, or risk losing relevance. First contracts can set long-time precedents for the future, so these are unduly onerous and time-consuming as the bargaining will have consequences for the future, and there is pressure on the Buffalo stores to reach a deal, quickly. The unionisation drive may not pose major financial risks to the coffee chain in terms of major wage or benefit increases. But the landslide Mesa victory by the Workers United might propel the Starbucks campaign with a broader organizing wave across the lower waged service sector, according to HR experts. The amount of support received from Buffalo was absolutely amazing as per Mesa employee Michelle Hejduk at a press conference after the vote, referring to further collaboration among pro-union Starbucks workers nationwide.
In the last 6 months, Starbuck employees at more than 100 stores in 26 American states have requested NLRB to conduct union elections in their locations, including Starbuck’s flagship Reserve Roastery stores in New York and Starbucks’ hometown Seattle. The union also won legal arguments. The ballot count remains rescheduled after Starbucks went ahead and challenged the election procedures but ultimately lost. Two Buffalo, New York stores joined the union and began negotiating contracts. At a third location in Buffalo, workers voted down the union, while three other locations had ballots impounded, pending the decision of Starbucks’ appeal. The union drive did not pose major financial risks to the coffee chain with big wage or benefit increases. Starbucks mishandling the situation damages its reputation as a progressive employer with better pay and benefits than other restaurant chains. This issue turning into a negative PR storm, is a ‘headline risk’ for the stock. Shares were near 16-month lows and lost 20% value over the last two months, a steeper fall compared to the S&P 500 Restaurants Subindex.