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Buffalo, N.Y., Starbucks makes history voting for union by 19-8 vote

The Camp Road Hamburg location has voted against representation, with the Genesee Street ballot count remains unresolved at this time.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — History was made Thursday in Buffalo as the Elmwood Avenue Starbucks has voted to unionize by a vote of 19-8.

Votes were counted by a local representative of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This is the first Starbucks store in the nation to vote for union representation.

“This is a historic moment in time,” said Michelle Eisen, a barista and 11-year partner at the Elmwood store. “This win is the first step in changing what it means to be a partner at Starbucks, and what it means to work in the service industry more broadly. With a union, we now have the ability to negotiate a contract that holds Starbucks accountable to be the company we know it can be, and gives us a real voice in our workplace.”

The votes at the Camp Road Hamburg location amounted to eight for representation and 12 against. There were two unresolved challenge ballots and one ballot that was declared void by the NLRB. The number of challenges was not sufficient enough to change the vote totals.

At the Genesee Street location the count was 15 for and 9 against. However, there were seven unresolved challenge ballots that, once resolved, could change the outcome of the vote at this particular Starbucks. 

The Elmwood, Camp Road, and Genesee Street Starbucks locations filed a petition in early September with the National Labor Relations Board to officially hold union elections. Elections began Nov. 10 and ran through Wednesday.  

A week after the three locations mentioned above announced they would like to unionize, two more expressed interest in unionizing as well. Those locations were at Walden and Anderson in Cheektowaga and at Transit Commons.

Heading into the election, workers at the three locations were confident that they would become the first unionized stories in the nation, despite alleged efforts from Starbucks to stop the unionization. 

Starbucks did attempt to halt the election, but their complaint was dismissed by NLRB and counting of the votes was approved, Starbucks Workers United announced on Tuesday.

A Starbucks spokesperson issued a statement Thursday evening:

Today we saw a split vote in two stores in Buffalo with a third vote outcome pending.

Every partner matters. It’s how we built the company. And how we will continue to run the company. We will continue to focus on the best Starbucks experience we can deliver for each other and our customers.  

We are grateful for each partner who exercised their right to vote, and as we move forward, we will continue to focus on working to exceed the expectations of all our partners and our customers. 

We want to protect partner flexibility and transferability across all stores in a market or a district because we know that’s important to partners, which is why we maintain our belief that every partner in a district or market should have the opportunity to vote on such an important decision. 

Independent of the outcome of these elections, we respect the process, and we will continue to stay true to our Mission and Values. 

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