Workers at three more Starbucks stores in western New York have voted to unionize, expanding a growing union’s toehold inside the world’s largest coffee chain.
The National Labor Relations Board counted ballots for the trio of elections on Wednesday, showing a close union victory in each one. The board must still certify the results to make them official.
The Starbucks employees are joining Workers United, the same union that has been organizing Starbucks stores around the country since last year. The union has won two other elections in New York and one in Mesa, Arizona, creating one of the most closely watched U.S. union efforts in years. It has lost only one election so far.
The latest vote counts bring the total of unionized stores to six, but the union has petitioned for elections at more than 100 other stores in 26 states. None of Starbucks’ nearly 9,000 corporate-owned U.S. locations had union representation until this campaign, known as Starbucks Workers United.
The union won the three vote counts on Wednesday with totals of 8-7, 15-12 and 15-12. Roughly 120 workers across the three stores would now have union representation.
The company has resisted the organizing effort all along. Managers have been holding meetings with workers to discourage them from unionizing, while the company’s lawyers have tried to slow down the campaign through litigation at the labor board.
The union has been seeking elections at individual stores, while Starbucks has asked the labor board to group the stores into larger elections on a regional basis. Bigger elections tend to benefit employers since they dilute the union’s support at individual sites.
Starbucks has lost that legal argument at each turn, and a recent board ruling rejecting an appeal from Starbucks could make it harder for the company to delay votes moving forward.
Meanwhile, Starbucks has fired a number of open union supporters, including a group of seven organizers in Memphis, Tennessee. Starbucks has said it fired the workers for legitimate reasons, but the union has filed charges against the company at the labor board, alleging illegal retaliation and demanding that the workers be reinstated.