Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) says that the National Labor Relations Board should allow all 450 of its Buffalo, New York employees to vote on the decision of whether to unionize or not.
“We believe this will make this process fair and respectful for every partner in Buffalo. It will ensure that all of you are afforded the voting rights, and the voice that you deserve in this process,” wrote Allyson Peck, Starbucks regional vice president, Northeast region, in the note to the Buffalo employees.
The coffee chain, who in the past has referred to its workers as “partners,” is now facing a unionization campaign after employees said that working conditions declined throughout the pandemic. Employees say that they aim to achieve a more equitable partnership with the company.
“Ask us anything – we’re all here to help,” Peck said in the letter. “You have the right to work directly with Starbucks – and if you don’t want to give up that right, you should vote ’no.”
Organizer Starbucks Workers United sent a letter to the company’s CEO Kevin Johnson asking for a fair election with no interference, such as threats or repercussions from management.
“Starbucks’ mission is to improve the community one cup at a time. Respecting the right to organize our partners is what the company does by improving our lives and raising the standards of the industry as a whole. It will help you achieve your mission,“ says the letter.
Rossann Williams, executive vice president of Starbucks North America has been in Buffalo the last few days to hold listening sessions with employees. Additionally, the company’s founder and former CEO Howard Schultz was also in buffalo to speak with partners.
“As the company founder, it’s understandable he is passionate about what is happening here, and has been in the market to listen and connect directly with our partners,” Reggie Borges, Starbucks spokesman, told CNBC.
Nevertheless, Starbucks Workers United claim, “Rossann never came to Buffalo before the union campaign started. She hasn’t left. She’s in our stores, spying on us and interrupting our work. Starbucks calls us partners, but they are afraid of what a true partnership means: empowerment and a voice at the table. If Rossann means what she says about valuing ‘partner to partner communication,’ she should welcome our union and look forward to bargaining with the partners working on the floor every day and stop calling our union a ‘third party.’”