The employees at a Starbucks coffee shop in Buffalo, New York, became the first the allow themselves to be represented by a union in the franchises’ history.
Workers of one Starbucks café voted by a 19 to 8 margin to allow themselves to be represented by an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, while votes in another store remained inconclusive. A third store voted against union representation.
“This is a historic moment in time,” said Michelle Eisen, a barista and at the store in which the union won told CNN. “This win is the first step in changing what it means to be a partner at Starbucks, and what it means to work in the service industry more broadly. With a union, we now have the ability to negotiate a contract that holds Starbucks accountable to be the company we know it can be, and gives us a real voice in our workplace.”
Starbucks has 235,000 employees in the US in almost 9000 shops. The shop in Buffalo is widely viewed as a test case for further union organizing not only in Starbucks but also in the service industry in general.
“Additionally, while the number of partners represented by unions is not significant, if a significant portion of our employees were to become unionized, our labor costs could increase and our business could be negatively affected by other requirements and expectations that could increase our costs, change our employee culture, decrease our flexibility and disrupt our business,” noted the company in its 10-k declaration to the SEC in October.