Employees are serving customers at a newly opened Starbucks’ reserve roster in the Meatpacking District on December 14, 2018 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
At its New York City Reserve roster, Starbucks Barista voted 46-36 in favor of forming a union on Friday, giving incoming interim CEO Howard Schultz a push that could be more personal.
The Reserve Roastry is the ninth company owned by Starbucks to run the union. On Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board counted votes for a Knoxville cafe, but a challenging ballot left the outcome of that effort uncertain. The union won by a single vote. Last week, a cafেলের in Seattle, Starbucks, and a second location in Mesa, Arizona, also voted to unionize.
To date, elections have been held in only one place and voted against uniting under Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. However, the union has drawn up a petition for a union election for roastry production workers, who were due to vote on Thursday.
Friday’s victory for Starbucks Workers United represents more than any other place in the growing number of unionized cafes. Starbucks opened a nearly 23,000-square-foot cafe in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District in December 2018, under the tutelage of CEO Kevin Johnson. But luxury stores and others like it were actually the brainchild of former CEO Schultz, who resumed his top job Monday on an interim basis after Johnson retired.
“I am proud of the end result of our efforts to make our workplaces more democratic and equitable. The community is a value in my heart and dear and I am grateful and happy to express solidarity with my peers,” said Lee Kido. 9 year old Starbucks partner.
Reserve resorts located in cities such as Seattle, Shanghai and Milan were meant for the immersive, superior coffee experience to attract both tourists and city dwellers alike. Schultz wanted to open dozens of them, but Johnson said in 2019 that the company would return to those ambitious plans. The last one was launched in Chicago that year.
Friday’s vote at the New York City roster was the first election for Starbucks, conducted in person, not by mail-in ballot.
]People walk out of the newly opened Starbucks reserve roster in the Meatpacking District on December 14, 2018 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Starbucks’ growing union will be one of the challenges facing Schultz as he takes on the role of chief executive again. During his previous tenure as CEO of Coffee Chain, Starbucks earned a reputation as a liberal and progressive employer, an image that is now at risk as unions gain momentum and workers share their grievances.
Seeing the pushback against pay and working conditions through union representation, the chain is far from the only company. Earlier on Friday, Amazon employees at the Staten Island warehouse voted to become the e-commerce giant’s first unionized facility. And in March, employees at REI Co-op, a Manhattan flagship store, voted to form the company’s first union in the United States.
The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against Starbucks in early March seeking revenge against two Phoenix employees who were trying to organize. The union further alleges that Starbucks employs union-busting in many of its stores who have applied for election. The agency has denied the allegations.
Early Union Victory in Buffalo has galvanized to organize other Starbucks locations across the country. Cafফে, which owns more than 150 companies, has filed for union selection with the National Labor Relations Board, along with other locations in New York City. Staff at Manhattan’s Astor Place Cafe are starting to cast their ballots on Friday for their mail-in election.
Although it’s still a small fraction of Starbucks’ overall footprint. The company operates in about 9,000 locations across the United States
The regional director of the NLRB now has to certify the ballots, a process that can take up to a week. The union then faces its next real challenge: negotiating a deal with Starbucks. Labor law does not require employers and unions to reach a joint bargaining agreement, and contract negotiations can drag on for years.
At Starbucks ‘annual shareholders’ meeting several weeks ago, Chair Melody Hobson said the company understands and recognizes the right to organize its employees.
“We are negotiating in good faith, and we want a constructive relationship with the union,” he said.
He told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” earlier that day that Starbucks had “done something wrong” when asked about Union Push.