New York Starbucks Workers Move to Decertify Union at Buffalo, Rochester Stores

Employees at two New York Starbucks stores – Buffalo and Rochester – filed decertification petitions within two weeks of one another, seeking to dissolve the unions at those stores. The Buffalo store was the original center of the union organization movement in the high-dollar coffee chain. Workers United, the union representing both stores, attributes the decertification petitions to union-busting tactics and expects both petitions to be dismissed.

Workers must file decertification petitions to unseat unions at least one year after the union certification. Decertification petitions must be accompanied by proof that at least 30% of workers support them.

Meanwhile, Starbucks has shut down all three locations in Ithaca, NY. Ironically, Ithaca was the nation’s first town where all Starbucks employees were unionized. About 300 U.S. Starbucks stores are now unionized. Nonetheless, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz defended the company’s labor practices before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, despite overt criticism by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Nationally, unionized workers may have difficulty decertifying unions if the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) finalizes a proposed rule to rescind the 2020 amendment to the so-called “blocking charge” rule. Under the blocking charge rule, unions can delay decertification elections if they believe that employees may vote them out by filing an unlawful conduct charge against the employer that affected or will affect employee voting. That issue must be resolved before the decertification petition can proceed. However, the 2020 amendment allowed the decertification petition to go forward, even if an unlawful conduct charge was pending.

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