Starbucks at Seattle Location Votes Unanimously to Unionize

Baristas at a Starbucks in Seattle voted unanimously Tuesday to unionize, marking a first in the company’s hometown.

The Seattle location voting to unionize joined it with six other Starbucks cafes in Mesa, Arizona, and Buffalo, New York. It decided to form its union under Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Only one location, in the Buffalo area, has voted against unionization.

Nine workers at this Seattle location voted to unionize, with none voting against it. One ballot was not counted due to it being challenged. Six other Starbucks locations in Seattle have filed for union elections as well.

The union victories at two Buffalo locations both late last year and earlier this year have set the momentum for other Starbucks locations to do the same. Within the past six months, over 150 company-owned Starbucks cafes have filed for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The NLRB’s regional director will now have to certify the Seattle ballots, followed by the union negotiating a contract with Starbucks. This process can take years, since labor laws do not require the employer and union reach a collective bargaining agreement.

Last week, at Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting, Chair Mellody Hobson stated the company understands and recognizes the right of its workers to unionize, adding “we are also negotiating in good faith, and we want a constructive relationship with the union.”

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