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Starbucks says it will negotiate with workers in Buffalo, NY.

Participants’ reactions during a Starbucks union vote in Buffalo, NY, USA, December 9, 2021.

Lindsay DeDario | Reuters

Starbucks plans to engage in good faith with workers at its Elmwood store in Buffalo, New York, the company said Monday, days after an employee vote was confirmed to form the first union in the United States.

In a letter to all US partners, Rossan Williams, executive vice president of North America at Starbucks, said that while the company’s belief that it does not want an alliance “between us as partners,” has not changed, it will respect the lawsuit.

“This means we will be bargaining in good faith with the union representing partners in one Buffalo store that voted to represent the union. We hope that union representatives will also come to the negotiating table with mutual goodwill, respect and positive intentions, ”Williams wrote.

Earlier this month, workers at the Elmwood plant voted to unionize, the first for the company since it went public decades ago. A second vote for a store in a nearby café was in favor of Starbucks, while the third was not determined that day because both sides questioned the outcome. Last week, the union officially challenged the results in two stores.

The desire for unionization is also spreading across the country. Baristas at two Boston cafes applied for union elections late last week. Other stores in Buffalo and Mesa, Arizona are also looking to partner with Starbucks Workers United, an affiliate of the International Service Workers Union. The more successful stores there are, the greater the opportunity for workers to bargain collectively with the coffee giant. Both parties are not required to agree to the contract.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson recently told CNBC correspondent Jim Kramer that he expects several more stores to merge.

The promotion of the unions as a whole met with strong opposition from the Starbucks management. In Buffalo and Mesa, the company dispatched leaders to what the organizers called “union busting.” Starbucks denies any accusations of intimidating workers. The company said from the outset that it believed the entire Buffalo market of 20 stores should have a vote.


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