Three Starbucks Stores Unionize In A Single Afternoon

Food & Drink


Three Buffalo-area Starbucks stores Wednesday voted to organize with Starbucks Workers United following a months-long campaign marked by legal wrangling and accusations of union-busting.

Key Facts

Workers at three stores in upstate New York narrowly voted to join the Starbucks’ employees union, with one store’s decision separated by a single vote (8-7) and the others voting 15-12 in favor of unionization.

Though workers at the three Buffalo-area Starbucks cast their votes weeks prior, their ballots were temporarily impounded February 23 after Starbucks filed a request for review with the National Labor Relations Board.

March 4, Buffalo Starbucks employee and union organizer Daniel Rojas was reportedly fired by the company for violating what Starbucks Workers United alleged were selectively enforced policies.

A Starbucks spokesperson said the company would “respect the process” and bargain in good faith with the union.

Key Background

After about two decades of mainly unsuccessful organizing drives, Starbucks was hit with a flurry of pro-union votes—two Buffalo-area stores voted to unionize in December, followed by a Mesa, Arizona store February 5. Workers United organizers have accused Starbucks of using threats, intimidation and emotional manipulation—“every trick in the book”—to sabotage organizing campaigns. Though Starbucks has been frank about its desire not to have unions in its stores, it has denied accusations of anti-union activity. Union membership has fallen dramatically across the U.S. over past decades, from 20.1% in 1980 to 10.3% in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 1.2% of workers at food service and drinking establishments were unionized in 2021, the BLS reported.

Big Number

9,000. That’s about how many stores Starbucks owns in the U.S.


Union organizing is an increasingly partisan issue, according to Pew Research Center data. Though the proportion of Americans who say labor unions have a positive effect remained static at 55% from 2019 to 2021, over that period approval rose among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents from 66% to 74% and fell among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents from 44% to 34%, Pew found.

Further Reading

“Arizona Starbucks Votes To Unionize In First Such Victory Outside New York” (Forbes)

“Starbucks Workers File Complaint Allege Company Illegally Responded To Union Drive” (Forbes)

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