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Seattle Starbucks union vote passes unanimously in the company’s hometown


Gianna Reeve of Starbucks Barista, spoke in support of Seattle Starbucks workers who announced their plans to unionize during an event at Cal Anderson Park in Seattle on January 25, 2022.

Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images

StarbucksOn Tuesday, baristas from a Seattle store unanimously voted for unionization. This is the first time in Seattle.

Broadway in Seattle and Denny Way are joining six other Starbucks-owned cafes in Buffalo, New York and Mesa in Arizona when Workers United, an affiliate to the Service Employees International Union, decided to create a union. Starbucks Workers United’s win rate is 88% because only one of the Buffalo locations voted against unionizing.

Among the problems facing society is the growing push for unionization incoming interim CEO Howard Schultzwhen he takes over the reins of the coffee company that he has helped to grow. Schultz will assume the helm of the company starting April 4. This allows Kevin Johnson to retire, and board members can begin searching for a long-term successor.

Starbucks was able to establish a good reputation for being a progressive and generous employer under Schultz. This position is in danger as workers and the union gain momentum.

With no votes for, nine workers from the Broadway or Denny Way locations voted to unite. One ballot was invalidated and therefore was not included in the final count. The company has filed six additional union elections at Seattle Starbucks, including its flagship Reserve Roastery. It is an extravagant cafe that aims to be competitive with more high-end coffee shops.

It initial Buffalo victories for the union have galvanized other locations nationwide to organize. Over 150 Starbucks coffee shops owned by companies filed union elections at the National Labor Relations Board within the last six-months.

One small portion of the company’s total footprint was still impacted by the union drive. Starbucks is present in nearly 9000 locations across the U.S.

Now, the National Labor Relations Board’s Regional Director will have to certify Seattle ballots. This could take as long as a week. Next, the union will have to negotiate a contract for Starbucks. The labor laws do not require the union and employer to reach a collective bargaining arrangement. Contract discussions may drag out for many years.

Starbucks chair Mellody Hobson stated that company respects workers’ rights to organize during Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting.

She stated that she was also in negotiations with good faith. “We want constructive relations with the union.”

CNBC interviewed her. “Squawk Box”Starbucks earlier in the day admitted that it had “made mistakes” regarding union pushes.

She stated, “When we stop to think about it, Howard is the reason we’re leaning in on him in this moment. It’s because he has that unique connection with our people, where we feel he can engage with them in a way which will make a significant difference.”

Schultz made an appearance in Buffalo just before union elections were due to take place to discourage workers voting to unionize. It was a sign that Schultz may be returning to the company as well as his strategy for the organizing drive.