BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s going to be a bit longer before three local Starbucks stores find out if they were successful in unionizing.

Wednesday’s the day when votes on unionization at three local cafes were scheduled to be revealed. Specifically, the count was set for 1 p.m., but the National Labor Relations Board says it’s going to be delayed.

On January 31, Starbucks appealed the NLRB order to hold the election. The NLRB has not ruled on that request for review. Therefore, the ballots were impounded and the count was postponed.

In its appeal, the company argued that the union was “gaming the system” by having stores vote individually, rather than as a whole market.

There are 20 stores in the Buffalo market.

“It’s a delay tactic. This right here is what union-busting looks like in the United States in 2022.” Ian Hayes, an attorney for Starbucks Workers United, says.

The three stores are located in Amherst (Sheridan and Bailey), Cheektowaga (Walden and Anderson) and Depew (Transit and French). They’re looking to join stores on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo and Genesee Street in Cheektowaga in unionizing.

“Our position since the beginning has been that all partners in a market or district deserve the right to vote on a decision that will impact them,” a Starbucks representative tells News 4. “We will continue to respect the NLRB’s process and advocate for our partners’ ability to make their voices heard.”

Starbucks Workers United had asked the NLRB to rule on Starbucks’ request for review prior to the scheduled vote count on Wednesday. When that didn’t happen, pro-union workers turned their frustration toward the board.

“The NLRB failed in its duty really to get to the appeal within any sort of reasonable manner,” said Colin Cochran, who works at the Cheektowaga location at Walden and Anderson.

“This isn’t right. We need the NLRB to start stepping up and actually representing those who have come forth to say, ‘We need to be represented.’ This is their job and they need to start being held accountable,” added Angel Krempa, who works at the Depew location near French and Transit.

In response, an NLRB spokesperson explained that when any party filed a request for the board to review a direction of election, the process may take longer.

“For every request for review, the Board aims to thoroughly examine the parties’ arguments while also acting quickly to ensure that workers have the opportunity to vote whether or not they want a union to represent them. But these competing concerns mean that the Board will not always rule on a request for review before the scheduled count date,” the NLRB spokesperson said.

Not only are those two stores the only unionized Starbucks in western New York; they’re the only two of nearly 9,000 in the whole country. But across the U.S., employees at more than 100 stores are trying to unionize, Starbucks Workers United says.

Employees at the Amherst, Depew and Cheektowaga locations mentioned above had until Tuesday to get their ballots in, with confidence brewing amongst some staff.

Daniel Rojas, an Amherst worker who’s in support of the efforts, said “I still think that our store will win on Wednesday.”

Just days after the start of the new year, workers at the nation’s first unionized Starbucks, on Elmwood Avenue, walked off the job. Starbucks Workers United says it was due to “unsafe working conditions.”

The store became unionized the month prior.

To unionize, a store needs a majority vote, which means just over 50 percent. Another area Starbucks tried to unionize, but was unsuccessful. That one’s located on Camp Road in Hamburg.

It’s not clear when the results of the votes regarding the Amherst, Cheektowaga and Depew stores will be revealed.

Latest Posts

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.