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11 Nov 2021

Josh Eidelson, The Seattle Times

USA: Starbucks workers to receive ballots to vote on unionising

"Starbucks fails in plea to block union votes at 3 N.Y. stores", 11 November 2021

Starbucks employees at three restaurants near Buffalo, New York, will consider joining a union after the U.S. government mailed them ballots, defeating the company’s efforts to prevent organizing elections.

A union victory in any of the votes would create the first such labor foothold among the...coffee chain’s thousands of corporate-run locations.

The mailing...was a setback for Starbucks, which...asked National Labor Relations Board members in Washington, D.C., to keep the agency’s Buffalo office from distributing ballots. Starbucks also had asked the board to overrule an acting regional director’s ruling that greenlit store-by-store elections at three sites where workers petitioned to form a union.

Starbucks has argued that any vote should involve at least all 20 of the region’s stores, meaning that the union, Workers United, would win only if it secured a majority of votes from the much larger group.

The company had argued that the director’s Oct. 28 ruling was contrary to 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.” The official had ruled that Starbucks “failed to sustain its burden” to overcome the NLRB’s usual presumption that employees at a single worksite can be an appropriate group to vote on unionization. She cited the distance between Starbucks sites, variations in working conditions, and local stores’ autonomy on day-to-day operations...