Two Boston-Area Starbucks Stores Look To Unionize After Vote In Buffalo

Photo: James Rojas / WBZ

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Following a successful union vote at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, two local Starbucks coffee shops are looking to hold a union vote.

The two locations looking to unionize are located at 1304 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston and 277 Harvard Avenue in Brookline. They announced their intention to hold a vote to join the Workers United union, the same one the store in Buffalo voted to join, in a letter to Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson on Monday.

In their letter to Johnson, the organizing committees said they support the union efforts of their fellow stores in Buffalo and Arizona, and they hope to form the union to create a more democratic workplace.

"We do not see our desire to organize as a reaction to specific policies but as a commitment to making Starbucks, Boston, and the world a better place," the organizers wrote in the letter. "We stand firmly in our belief that a union can provide our hard-working partners the justice and equality they deserve while also enriching the company."

This call to unionize comes after a store in Buffalo, New York voted 19-8 in favor of joining the Workers United union. This marked the first time a Starbucks store had voted to form a union in the coffee chain's 50 year history.

“They inspired me, seeing them being able to stand up and do it,” said Ash O’Neill, who works at the location on Commonwealth Avenue. She and her co-worker, Kylah Clay, were excited with the news coming out of Buffalo.

“Getting their voices heard was incredibly empowering,” Clay said. “Watching corporate’s response was very scary as well. So it was a mix of emotions, but we were rooting for them the whole time.”

Last Friday, the two helped gather signatures from 85% of employees at both locations in Brookline and Boston. On Monday, they were able to formally file the petition. The next steps involve handing out shirts, buttons and soon holding an employee rights meeting.

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Two other locations in Buffalo held union votes, with one location voting 12-8 to not join the union, a result the union plans to contest, alleging not all eligible votes were counted. The results from a third store could not be determined after both sides contested votes. A store in Mesa, Arizona has also filed a petition to unionize but has not voted yet.

These two Starbucks locations are not the only coffee shops in the Boston area looking to form a union either. Workers at local coffee shop chain Pavement voted to unionize earlier this summer, while three Somerville stores—Diesel Cafe, Bloc Cafe, and Forge Baking Company—all petitioned to unionize last week and got recognition.

WBZ's James Rojas (@JamesRojasNews) spoke with Clay and O'Neill:

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