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More Starbucks Shops Are Unionizing After the First Historic Win in New York

Date: December 23, 2021

By Opheli Garcia Lawler, Thrillist

Just one week after a Starbucks branch in Buffalo, New York, won its union election, two more Starbucks branches in Massachusetts filed for union elections, according to The Guardian. The Buffalo branch made history as the first company-owned Starbucks to successfully form a union, despite corporate pushback.

The Massachusetts stores in Boston and Brookline sent a letter of intent to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson on December 13. In the letter, the workers cited the Buffalo branch’s victory as a source of inspiration.

"It really reminded us that our voice matters quite a bit and it's very often not listened to, so we were really just feeling empowered to come together, amplify our voices, and tell corporate what we think can make Starbucks even better than it already is," KyIah Clay, a barista at the Boston location, told The Guardian.

The workers in Massachusetts said they expect to face similar challenges in their efforts to unionize as their colleagues in New York. After the first Buffalo victory, Starbucks' corporate office posted a letter expressing disappointment with the turnout. However, the Buffalo branch started a growing movement across the country. Three additional branches in Buffalo and one branch in Mesa, Arizona, are already in different phases of forming a union.

A labor union, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is "an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members' interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions." A union typically offers protection from unfair work practices and allows people with less power in a company or workplace to team up and negotiate with bosses, executives, and other higher-ups.

In order to form a union, a workplace must have 30% of workers sign a union card or a petition stating their support. The National Labor Relations Board will then conduct an election unless the employer voluntarily recognizes the union.

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