Workers at a Starbucks (SBUX) location in Buffalo, New York, won a contentious victory last week when they became the coffee giant’s first unionised location.
Nonetheless, after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) counted the votes, a second cafe on Camp Road narrowly rejected the measure, a result organisers intend to challenge. Union organisers and their attorney assert that “voices” were drowned out.
“I do not accept that as the final result, 12 [against] to 8 [in favour], simply because I am aware that some voters in my location did not have their ballots counted,” Gianna Reeve, a shift supervisor at the Camp Road Starbucks, told Yahoo Finance on Friday.
Meanwhile, the third store’s results remained unknown as of Thursday’s vote, due to ballots being challenged during the counting process. However, Reeve considers it a victory.
“At the end of the day, it’s irrelevant. To be honest, it makes no difference whether Camp Road [store] organises or not, because the battle was getting from zero organised Starbucks locations to one organised Starbucks location, and now we have two,” Reeve explained.
During the vote count, the union challenged six ballots, claiming they were invalid because “the employee no longer works there.”
The ballots must be certified by the regional director of the NLRB, which could take up to a week. Negotiating a contract with Starbucks will be the next hurdle.
According to Reeve, Starbucks — which publicly opposed the union vote — had closed one of the area’s locations and allowed employees from that location to work for about two weeks at the third cafe on Genesee Street. According to Reeve, the company then “declared” them eligible to vote.
“We’ve always suspected that this was a union busting tactic by Starbucks to suffocate the ballots,” Reeve explained.
“At Genesee Street, we are declaring victory. We still face the hurdle of having to overcome those obstacles and declare that there are contested votes,” she added.