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Buffalo Starbucks stores' unionization vote to be counted Thursday afternoon

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Posted at 11:18 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 23:18:43-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Michelle Eisen has been a barista at Starbucks for 11 years and she has led the effort to unionize three stores in buffalo.

“It’s been a long road,” Eisen said. “It’s been the longest three months of my entire life.”

Votes will be counted Thursday, December 9, at 1 PM.

“I have no doubt that we are going to win tomorrow,” Eisen said.

Eisen said Starbucks has made changes over the past three months…such as increasing staffing

“But those changes wouldn’t have happened had we not been in the middle of a union campaign,” Eisen said.

“Starbucks is a company that has the resources to provide its workers with good wages,” Senator Bernie Sanders said. “With good working conditions and good benefits.”

In a statement Starbucks said:

Unlike others in our industry who operate a franchise model, we have a network of company-operated stores that work together to create a better partner experience. Why does this matter? Many of you have told me you greatly value the flexibility to work between stores, to swap and pickup shifts, giving you the opportunity to connect with partners across different stores as one community. Because of this, we feel strongly that all partners in Buffalo should have a voice in the elections, which may unfortunately not be the case. While we recognize this creates some level of uncertainty, we respect the process that is underway and, independent of any outcome in these elections, we will continue to stay true to our Mission and Values. 

But union supporters said the fight will not end even if the vote goes their way.

“Your struggle is not over because you’re going to have to get them to sit down and negotiate your first contract,” Senator Sanders said.

“What we’re really going to be relying on is public pressure and community support to get them to the bargaining table,” Eisen said.

Eisen said they plan to negotiate issues like seniority pay. She said she only makes 63 cents per hour more than a new employee – despite more than a decade with the company. Eisen said communication is also a key issue that she will address in bargaining.

“There needs to be an open dialogue with corporate from the store level,” Eisen said.

And Eisen said she hopes this will help make a difference for stores across the country.

“We just want to have a voice,” Eisen said. “And if yours is that this union isn’t for you, that’s fine.”