NLRB mails ballots to Buffalo-area Starbucks employees seeking to unionize

Starbucks Unionization Effort

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The National Labor Relations Board mailed ballots Wednesday to employees of three Buffalo-area Starbucks stores who are seeking to become the first locations in the country to unionize.

Starbucks filed a motion to delay the mailing of ballots earlier this week, but the board did not issue a decision prior to the 5 p.m. deadline for putting the ballots in the mail.

The ballots are heading to employees of Starbucks locations on Elmwood Avenue in the Elmwood Village, Genesee Street in Cheektowaga by the airport, and Camp Road in Hamburg. The stores are voting individually on unionization.

A majority vote is needed to unionize. The Elmwood Village location needs 11 of 21 employees to vote yes; Genesee Street needs 16 of 30 workers to vote yes and Camp Road also needs 16 of 30 to vote yes.

Ballots are scheduled to be counted on Dec. 9, barring an NLRB ruling that could delay the vote count.

Workers at three more local Starbucks locations announced Tuesday that they have also filed to form a union, but their vote is not yet scheduled. Those locations are Sheridan Drive & Bailey Avenue in Amherst, Walden Avenue & Anderson Road in Cheektowaga and a Depew location at Transit & French roads.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz came to town Saturday and held a talk with employees at a downtown hotel. In a letter posted to Starbucks’ website that day, titled “From Buffalo with love,” Schultz wrote he was “saddened” to hear workers at the company he founded feel they need a union.

“What the leadership team has done in Buffalo is what we have always done. We listen. We learn. We get better together,” he wrote. “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.”

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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a 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.

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