The vote was 25 in favor of the union and only 3 opposed. There were a total of 43 workers entitled to vote.
The Starbucks United Workers Union had already won the right to represent workers in two stores in Buffalo, New York, but lost the vote in a third store there, even though it challenged the outcome of that election. The union also advanced by holding additional elections in more than 100 Starbucks stores across 26 states.
Even if the syndicate wins all of these stores, it will be a small portion of Starbucks stores nationwide.
But this third win, by a large margin, could give a boost to the closely watched union’s efforts to apply for elections in additional stores.
For its part, Starbucks released a statement saying, “As we have said throughout, we will respect the process and will negotiate in good faith guided by our principles. We hope the Federation will do the same.”
The organizational effort was led by the young workers in their twenties who make up much of Starbucks’ workforce. Employees from the store in Mesa, known as partners in Starbucks parlance, gathered after the vote and celebrated the result. “This is tremendous for the entire country, across the United States. I am very proud,” Tyler Ralston, one of the partners, said in a press call following the vote. “The numbers reflect how we all feel. It’s a victory for workers’ rights and workers’ rights. I’m very excited.”
Supporters said the company’s efforts to persuade partners not to support the union backfired and the vote was unilateral.
“I’m not surprised by the margin. We’ve struggled with this for several months,” said Taylor Brennan, one of Mesa’s partners. “Not one person was corrupted.”
Amazon says it has better wages and benefits than many of its competitors, including health care coverage for part-time workers and college tuition reimbursement. It has issued two wage increases in the past 18 months, and in October, the company said it would raise wages to at least $15 an hour for baristas, with most hourly employees earning roughly $17 an hour by summer. It says it has the best retention rate in the industry.
But beyond better wages, those who support the regulatory effort say they want more input on how work is doing in stores. For example, workers left their job at Buffalo’s first union store for about a week in January to express concern about safety measures in the face of an Omicron surge.
Although many of the stores that the union has offered to represent are located in states with strong pro-labor histories, including Michigan, New York, California and Washington City, Starbucks, elections will also take place in locations in states with lower union rates, such as Tennessee, Texas, Georgia and Arizona.
Those who study labor movements say this is a really big union effort given the difficulty workers have in setting up new businesses, especially in restaurants and bars.
Data from the Ministry of Labor shows that only 1.2% of sector workers are union members, tied to financial, professional and technical services for the lowest share of union membership in any sector tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Unions are working hard to reverse decades of declining power in the United States. To achieve this, organizing new members and new industries will be crucial.
While nearly 34% of government workers are represented by unions, only 6% of the more than 116 million workers in private sector companies in the United States were union members last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The overall percentage of unionized workers is 10.2% and has been steadily declining for nearly 40 years, down from 16.8% in 1983, the first year counted by the BLS.
“I think it’s really important,” said Alexander Colvin, professor of labor relations at Cornell University. “We’ve never seen this level of regulation in organizations like this before.”
Todd Vachon, associate professor and director of the center, said the fact that the union advanced several additional elections in the wake of its first victory shows the potential for growth of this organizational effort, and the importance that winning in MESA can have. Labor Education at Rutgers University.
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