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Union organizers win vote at another Starbucks store

The vote was 25 in favor of the union and only 3 against. There were a total of 43 workers eligible to vote.

The union, Starbucks Workers United, had already won the right to represent workers at two stores in Buffalo, New York, but lost the vote at a third store there, although it disputes that election result. The union has also called for additional elections at more than 100 Starbucks stores in 26 states.

Even if the union wins all of those stores, it will only be a fraction of Starbucks stores nationwide.

Company filings show Starbucks (SBUX) had 235,000 employees in nearly 9,000 company-operated stores in the United States as of October 2021. The company is devoting significant resources, including visits by senior executives to stores holding votes, to convince employees not to not unionize.

But this third victory, by such a large margin, could give a boost to the union’s closely watched efforts to run for office at additional stores.

For its part, Starbucks released a statement saying, “As we have said throughout, we will respect process and bargain in good faith guided by our principles. We hope the union will do the same.”

The organizing effort was led by the young workers in their twenties who make up a large part of Starbucks’ workforce. Mesa store employees, known as Partners in Starbucks parlance, gathered after the vote and celebrated the outcome. “This is huge for the whole country, all over the United States. I’m so proud,” Tyler Ralston, one of the partners, said in a press call following the vote. “The numbers reflect how we all feel. This is a victory for labor rights and workers’ rights. And I’m so excited.”

Supporters said the company’s efforts to convince partners not to back the union had backfired and that was why the vote was so one-sided.

“I’m not surprised by the margin. We’ve been fighting this for so many months,” said Taylor Brennan, another of Mesa’s partners. “It’s not just one person who got screwed over.”

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Amazon says it has better wages and benefits than many of its competitors, including health care coverage for part-time workers and tuition reimbursement. He issued two wage increases in the past 18 months, and in October the company announced it would raise wages to at least $15 an hour for baristas, with most hourly workers earning on average close to $17 an hour by summer. And he says he has the best retention rate in the industry.

But in addition to better pay, those supporting the organizing effort say they want more information about how work is done in stores. For example, workers walked off the job at Buffalo’s first unionized store for about a week in January to express concern about safety measures in the face of the Omicron surge.

Although many of the stores the union has asked to represent are in states with strong pro-union histories, including Michigan, New York, California and Starbucks’ home state of Washington, elections will also take place. take place in states with low union density, such as Tennessee, Texas, Georgia and Arizona.

Those who study labor movements say this is already a major union effort given the difficulty workers have in organizing new businesses, especially in restaurants and bars.

Data from the Labor Department shows that only 1.2% of workers in the sector are unionized, tied with finance and professional and technical services for the lowest share of union membership of all sectors tracked by the Bureau of Labor. Labor Statistics.

Unions are working diligently to reverse decades of declining power in the United States. To achieve this, it will be crucial to organize new members and new industries.

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While nearly 34% of government employees are represented by unions, only 6% of the more than 116 million workers in U.S. private sector companies were unionized last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The overall percentage of unionized workers stands at 10.2% and has been declining steadily for nearly 40 years, from 16.8% in 1983, the first year it was calculated by the BLS.

“I think that’s already significant. We’ve never seen this scale of unionization in these kinds of establishments before,” said Alexander Colvin, professor of labor relations at Cornell University.

The fact that the union has called for so many additional elections following its first victory shows the potential for growth in this organizing effort and the significance a victory at Mesa could have, said Todd Vachon, assistant professor and director of labor education at Rutgers University.