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9 Nov 2021

Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Quint

USA: Starbucks calls on Labour Board to halt mailing of union ballots to workers

"Starbucks Asks Labor Board to Halt Mailing of Union Ballots", 9 November 2021

Starbucks Corp. asked the U.S. labor board to ditch plans to mail out ballots on Wednesday in unionization elections that could create a first-ever labor foothold among its thousands of corporate-run stores in the U.S. In filings with the National Labor Relations Board...the coffee chain argued that an acting regional director’s ruling, green-lighting store-by-store votes at three locations in and around Buffalo, New York, where workers petitioned to unionize, should be overturned. 

In its filings, the company wrote that the Oct. 28 ruling is contrary to U.S. labor law and would result in “disenfranchisement” by denying employees throughout the region the chance “to vote together on this important issue of union representation.”  Starbucks has argued that the pool of voters for any unionization election should at a minimum involve employees from across its 20 stores in the region, meaning that the union wouldn’t prevail unless it secured a majority among that larger group.

Attorneys for the company also wrote that the acting regional director’s ruling would create a “fractured” bargaining unit in which employees “working under centralized control” by the company would be arbitrarily split up “based solely on their happening to work” at a particular location on a certain day...

“The reason they are trying to cancel the election is apparently they are terrified to let the baristas have a voice,” Richard Bensinger, an organizer for Workers United, the union that employees petitioned to join, said in an email. “Why do they call them partners if they don’t want to give them a voice?”

A Starbucks spokesperson said that the company was seeking to avoid confusion and ensure employees throughout the region would have a chance to vote because they would all be affected if some stores were unionized...