Cheektowaga Starbucks becomes second location in country to unionize

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Starbucks employee Brian Murray, center, and other employees and supporters react as votes are read during a viewing party for their union election on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. Starbucks workers at a store in Buffalo, voted to unionize on Thursday, a first for the 50-year-old coffee retailer in the U.S. and the latest sign that the labor movement is stirring after decades of decline. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A second Buffalo-area Starbucks location has unionized, the National Labor Relations Board confirmed Monday.

The location on Genesee Street in Cheektowaga became the second Starbucks store in America to form a union, joining the Elmwood Village location that made history by voting to unionize in early December.

The Genesee Street location appeared on track to unionize in their vote last month, but the results were delayed by challenges to some voters’ eligibility. The vote was certified Monday in a 15-9 victory for the union.

Starbucks has 10 business days to file a request for review with the NLRB over the disputed votes. If granted, the results could be under review.

“While most of the world saw us win on Dec. 9, today is a special day – today we put an end to Starbucks’ delay attempts and formed our union at the Genesee Starbucks,” Lexi Rizzo, a shift supervisor at the Cheektowaga location, said in a press release. “Finally, the partners feel we have a voice at our workplace – this is an emotional day for all partners here who have fought so hard to make our voices heard in the work we do. Now we’re asking the same thing Elmwood is asking – we want a fair contract and most importantly we demand that Starbucks stop their union busting in Buffalo and across the nation immediately. No other partners should have to endure what we went through to have a voice on the job.”

Unionized workers at the Elmwood Village location walked off the job last week due to what they described as unsafe working conditions due to Covid-19 concerns. The union Twitter account said the workers returned to work Monday, “ending the strike.”

Elsewhere, a Starbucks store in Cleveland said Monday that it is also seeking to unionize. A Boston Starbucks followed Buffalo’s lead last month.

Three other Buffalo-area locations are also seeking to unionize but have not yet held a vote. Those locations are Sheridan Drive and Bailey Avenue in Amherst, Walden Avenue and Anderson Road in Cheektowaga, and a Depew location at Transit and French roads. Union efforts at a Hamburg location were defeated.

The Elmwood Starbucks workers have not yet begun negotiating a new contract with Starbucks.

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