At the end of last year, two Starbucks in Buffalo, New York became the first company-owned in the United States to successfully unionize. And what started in Western New York has begun to spread nationwide, with over 50 stores now following suit and seeking to unionize.
In just one month’s time, the movement has gained significant momentum through grassroots efforts at the locations working to unionize. Shortly after the Buffalo Starbucks had won their union votes, one store in Mesa, Arizona began their collective bargaining efforts, and results from that election by mail should be known in the coming weeks.
But the push by Starbucks Workers United, the organizers behind the unionizing efforts, don’t just stop there. According to NPR, workers at 54 company-owned Starbucks spanning 19 different states are all in various stages of pursuing union representation.
As NPR notes, these 50-plus locations comprise a very small percentage of the nearly-9,000 US company-owned Starbucks, but their impact may potentially outmeasure their size. The unionizing efforts have all been highly public events, and successful bids could be the catalyst for more locations to follow suit. And it also limits Starbucks’ ability to fight each effort on an individual level. When the first three Buffalo locations attempted to unionize, for instance, Starbucks flew out high level execs (including former CEO Howard Schultz) in a move Starbucks Workers United described as “union busting,” per CNBC. Such actions become untenable when dozens of locations in 19 states are all undertaking similar efforts.
According to Wikipedia, as of January 28th, company-owned locations in New York, Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, Tennessee, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, California, and Pennsylvania. Some 15 other locations in four other states who have petitioned to unionize have yet to be added to the list.