Starting Wednesday, workers at three Starbucks coffee shops in and around Buffalo, New York will have four weeks to vote on whether to unionize. If they vote to organize, they will form the first-ever Starbucks union in the United States.
Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research and a senior lecturer at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, is an expert on union and employer strategies in organizing and bargaining in the global economy. She says Starbucks has reason to be worried with Workers United leading the unionizing efforts.
“Starbucks takes its union-free status extremely seriously and has reason to be worried. One of the nation’s most effective unions – Workers United – is leading an organizing effort for Buffalo, New York baristas and is mounting a very smart strategic campaign. They may very well win.
“This is, after all, the same union and lead organizer – Richard Bensinger, former Organizing Director of the AFL-CIO – that successfully organized the baristas at Gimme! Coffee in Upstate New York in 2017, in one of the first NLRB election victories in this industry.
“Starbucks, for its part, seems caught off guard by a more neutral NLRB and workforce prepared for the company’s anti-union campaign.”
Cathy Creighton, director of ILR’s Buffalo Co-Lab is also available for interviews. She recently wrote an op-ed on the efforts to unionize at the Buffalo, New York Starbucks locations arguing for an overhaul of the U.S. labor law that stops workers from organizing.