BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Employees at two more local Starbucks locations are joining the push to unionize.
Last week, workers at three Buffalo-area locations announced they were seeking to become the first Starbucks stores in the country to unionize, calling their group Starbucks Workers United. The story received national attention.
Starbucks Workers United announced Wednesday that employees – which Starbucks refers to as “partners” – from the Walden & Anderson location in Cheektowaga and Transit Commons location in East Amherst will also file petitions with the National Labor Relations Board to hold official union elections. The other stores seeking to unionize are Camp Road in Hamburg, Genesee Street in Cheektowaga, and Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.
The union’s press release also lashed out at what it called “an intense union-busting effort by corporate executives, including the president of Starbucks North America, Rossann Williams.”
“The day after the Starbucks partners announced last week that they had gathered strong majorities at
the three locations, Williams flew into Buffalo with her corporate team from Seattle and other areas of
the country to launch an anti-union campaign,” Starbucks Workers United claimed.
The union said Williams and regional mangers held “listening sessions” with local employees last week, which were described to employees as “routine” but employees found suspicious.
A Starbucks spokesperson told News 4 that listening sessions are a normal occurrence and have been a “foundational component” of the company since its inception. The spokesperson added that the company has done more than 2,000 listening sessions around the country over the past year, including more than 175 by Williams herself.
“Our success – past, present and future – is built on how we partner together and lift each other up, always with Our Mission and Values at our core,” Starbucks said in a statement. “Throughout all of this, our goal remains the same: We want to create the very best jobs for every partner. We do that by listening and working together in a way that brings meaningful support to solve every challenge.”
Starbucks Workers United also said partners at the three stores that filed last week for NLRB elections “were notified that they must attend mandatory one-hour meetings with management.”
Starbucks said in a statement last week that it did not believe unions were necessary at its thousands of American locations.
“While Starbucks respects the free choice of our partners, we firmly believe that our work environment, coupled with our competitive compensation and benefits, makes unions unnecessary at Starbucks,” the company said. “We respect our partners’ right to organize but believe that they would not find it necessary given our pro-partner environment.”
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.