Starbucks (SBUX) is going on the offensive once again amid a nationwide wave of unionization, calling out the labor organization backing pro-union workers for allegedly breaking labor rules amid a recount of unionization vote at an Upstate New York location.
“These intermediaries have demonstrated that not only do they not operate in the best interest of partners, but sadly they’ll break labor rules to do so,” Starbucks Spokesperson Reggie Borges told Yahoo Finance in a statement. “The behavior we’re seeing from Workers United organizers is not acceptable and we won’t tolerate it.”
Starbucks Workers United, a subsidiary of the Workers United labor organization that is backing barista unionization efforts, responded in a statement to Yahoo Finance, asserting that the disputed election “shows the results of seven and a half months of union-busting in Buffalo. They filed for an election in September 2021 with an overwhelming majority on union cards, but Starbucks convinced the NLRB to agree to delay all of our elections if we didn’t pull the petition.”
Starbucks and Workers United, which is representing unionization efforts as Starbucks Workers United, have increasingly clashed for months. Workers United has backed more than 100 Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Starbucks over alleged “union-busting activity.” Starbucks has filed two charges against Workers United, alleging “intimidating and bullying” of partners (as employees are known) who didn’t align to union goals at stores in Denver and Phoenix.
The Cheektowaga recount
Starbucks partners at more than 200 stores across the U.S. have filed a petition to unionize and 26 locations have achieved confirmed union vote victories (with two voting against unionization).
A recount request from Starbucks following the March vote count at the Walden Ave & Anderson Road in Cheektowaga, NY, remains inclusive after a new tally on Friday.
In March, the eligible vote count at the Walden Ave & Anderson Road store resulted in eight votes in favor and seven votes not in favor of the unionization. No ballots were challenged.
However, the regional office received seven ballots late before the initial vote count. The Regional Director in Buffalo decided not to count those late ballots, according to the National Relations Board (NLRB).
Starbucks filed objections against the NLRB Buffalo office for not counting those ballots — which was then transferred to the Atlanta office to make the decision for a recount. The Regional Director in Atlanta decided that those late ballots should be opened and counted.
The recount resulted in two additional votes counted in favor of unionization and three votes counted against the measure, revising the tally to a 10-10. One ballot was challenged by Starbucks and another was deemed ineligible by both parties.
“The Walden partners were scattered across the district and told their store was closed ‘indefinitely,'” Starbucks Workers United stated. “Many partners transferred or quit due to the disruption Starbucks caused. The remaining partners endured endless anti-union meetings and one-on-ones, a steady stream of “support managers” sent in to spy on partners, and additional delays — first their ballots were impounded, and even now the results hinge on a challenged ballot.”
Workers United and Starbucks have one week to file objections. The challenged ballot was “determinative,” which means that the Regional Director will have to decide whether or not to open and count the ballot.
The union needs 50% plus one vote to win. So if it is a tied, the union loses.
“We are intent on proving that working together – all of us speaking directly to one another – is the better choice,” said Borges, the Starbucks spokesperson. “That’s why this company chose to use the word ‘partner’ in the first place. We are partners in this together – and we ask for the chance to show you what we can create together.”
Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv
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