A second Starbucks store in Buffalo became unionized after successfully challenging the initial vote.
The vote was 15-9 in favor of a union when the process unfolded in December, but six uncounted ballots were questioned by Workers United, the union representing the Starbucks store based in Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo. On Monday, the National Labor Relations Board sided with the union and rejected the votes of those six employees because they didn't work at the store long enough.
Starbucks has 10 days to file an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board.
"We've been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us at Starbucks, and that conviction has not changed," a spokesman told Reuters.
The news comes about a month after the Starbucks unit on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo voted 19-8 in favor of unionization. A third location in Hamburg rejected the union vote by a 12-8 margin, but Workers United filed an objection, so the final results remain unclear.
Prior to December, none of Starbucks' more than 8,000 company-owned units in the U.S. were unionized, but now two have the distinction, and a growing number of other outlets are looking to do the same. Three more stores in Buffalo are hoping to hold a vote, as are locations in Oregon, Illinois, Massachusetts, Arizona, Seattle, Colorado, and Tennessee.
Workers at the Elmwood Avenue location staged a walkout on January 6 to protest unsafe working conditions due to the growing spread of the Omicron variant. An employee told Reuters that one-third of workers were out because of COVID. She also noted that employees can wear N95 masks, but must still serve unmasked customers despite New York's recent statewide mask mandate for indoor public places. The employees went back to work five days later.