BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Starbucks Workers United members gathered at the Tri-Main Center on Wednesday to share their optimism about their upcoming union vote count.
.@SBWorkersUnited will count votes on unionization next week. Today they’re highlighting what they expect from the first Starbucks union for three stores in the area. This could be the first union nationwide of 8,000 Starbucks locations. @WKBW pic.twitter.com/3YLj1rUO4R— Natalie Fahmy (@NatalieFahmy) December 1, 2021
“The city has really rallied behind us,” barista Michelle Eisen said. “Our community, families and friends.”
Workers United members said the pandemic was a catalyst to start this movement to unionize, but they said they’ve noticed deteriorating work conditions for several years.
“I’d like to bring them back to who they were ten years ago when I started,” Eisen said.” And that’s not who they are now.”
In August, three Buffalo area Starbucks locations made history by becoming the first in the country filed to unionize. Those locations are:
Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo
Genesee Street in Cheektowaga
Camp Road in Hamburg
Now, about 100 Starbucks employees have been voting to decide whether they will unionize. In just over one week, on December 9, the votes will be counted.
“We are going to win the first unionized Starbucks,” barista Jaz Brisack said. “But we shouldn’t have had to go through all this to do it.”
Employees said if they win the vote, their goal is to get the bargaining table to negotiate a new contract as soon as possible.
“We are looking for more seniority pay,” Eisen said. “We’re looking for bigger voice in the company.”
This could be the first Starbucks union nationwide, out of more than 8,000 locations.
“It is our voice; it is our work the brings in all the profit and we deserve to have some sort of say in our working conditions.”
Buffalo union organizers said Starbucks employees across the country have rallied behind them and politicians like Bernie Sanders have reached out to offer their support.
I'm proud to stand with @SBWorkersUnited in their fight for decent wages and decent working conditions. Starbucks is raking in record profits in 2021. They are not a struggling company. So why are they working so hard to defeat workers' efforts to form a union?— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 30, 2021
“It was nice to know that support existed from him and others across the country.”
On November 9, three other Buffalo area locations filed for union elections. We reached out to Starbucks but have not heard back yet.