Ballots scheduled to be mailed out this week as Starbucks workers decide on unionizing

Starbucks Unionization Effort

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The debate over unionization at three local Starbucks kicked into another gear over the weekend as the company’s former CEO visited town. In a meeting that took place at the Hyatt in Downtown Buffalo Saturday evening, Howard Schultz spoke with employees. It was a gathering that one pro-union worker described 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 Gianna Reeve, one of the workers leading the unionization effort.

The meeting took place just days before workers are expected to start voting. Ballots are scheduled to be mailed out to employees at the locations in the Elmwood Village, Camp Rd. in Hamburg, and Genesee St. in Cheektowaga on Wednesday.

Reeve attempted to speak to Schultz at the meeting. In a video posted to the Starbucks Workers United Twitter page, she can be heard saying, “If you care about your partners in Buffalo, please sign the fair election principles.”

Starbucks refers to its employees as “partners”. Pro-union workers see fair election principles as a form of protection.

Meanwhile, the same day as the meeting at the Hyatt, Schultz posted a message on the company’s website. He said the company has always listened to its workers and learned.

“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.”

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.

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