BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Starbucks has asked the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. to delay the mailing of ballots to workers at three Western New York locations considering whether to unionize, the company says.
Ballots are currently scheduled to be mailed to workers at locations in the Elmwood Village, Hamburg, and Cheektowaga by the end of the day Wednesday. Those employees would have until December 8 to return them to the National Labor Relations Board, as laid out in a ruling issued by the acting regional director of the board’s Buffalo office in October.
However, Starbucks is asking the full board to issue a stay and review the regional office’s decision that the vote include just those three locations. The company has argued it should include all 20 locations in the Western New York area. Its officials believe the regional office did not correctly apply the law.
The coffeehouse chain is also appealing the regional office’s decision to conduct voting by mail rather than a manual election.
It is unclear how quickly the NLRB may make a decision on Starbucks’ request.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was in Buffalo over the weekend to meet with workers, who the company refers to as “partners”. On Saturday, Schultz posted a note on the company’s website, saying they listen to and learn from their workers.
“We get better together,” Schultz said. “No partner has ever needed to have a representative seek to obtain things we all have as partners at Starbucks. And I am saddened and concerned to hear anyone thinks that is needed now.”
Gianna Reeve, a pro-union Starbucks worker, referred to the meeting with Schultz and co-workers as “uncomfortable.”
“After he was done speaking, I couldn’t help but think that this was the exact reason why partners needed a voice and needed representation in the company,” said Reeve.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter and anchor who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.