Starbucks intends to negotiate in good faith with employees at its Elmwood store in Buffalo, New York, the company said Monday, just days after the employees’ votes to form the coffee chain’s first union in the United States were certified.
Starbucks EVP North America Rossann Williams stated in a letter to all U.S. partners that while the company’s conviction that it does not want a union “between us as partners” has not changed, the company will respect the legal process.
“This means we will bargain in good faith with the union that represents partners in the one Buffalo store that voted in favor of union representation. Our hope is that union representatives also come to the table with mutual good faith, respect and positive intent,” Williams wrote. In response, Starbucks Workers United said it wants to sit with management to negotiate as soon as possible.
“As Starbucks makes these comments, we hope they will be truthful and respect the law by sitting down at the bargaining table with the partners who formed this union. They can demonstrate that today by signing the Agreement for Equity jobs and Sustainability we presented last Thursday,” the group said, calling on Starbucks to also respect the rights of its workers to organize in other locations.
Workers at the Elmwood location voted to unionize earlier this month, a first for the company since it went public decades ago. A second store vote at a nearby cafe went in favor of Starbucks, while the results of a third were not determined that day because both sides challenged the tally. The union filed a formal challenge to the results at the two stores last week.
Unionization is also gaining traction across the country. Late last week, baristas at two Boston cafes filed for union elections. More Starbucks locations in Buffalo and Mesa, Arizona, are also attempting to unionize with Starbucks Workers United, a branch of the Service Employees International Union. The more successful the stores, the greater the workers’ ability to bargain collectively with the coffee giant. A contract job is not required between the two parties.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson recently told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that he expects a few more stores to join the union. Starbucks management has been staunchly opposed to the union campaign in general. The company has sent executives to locations in Buffalo and Mesa that organizers have dubbed “union-busting.” Starbucks has denied any allegations that it has attempted to intimidate employees. Since the beginning of the process, the company has stated that it believes the entire Buffalo market of 20 stores should have been allowed to vote.