The National Labor Relations Board will count ballots received in the mail in November on Thursday, but the company had tried to delay the tally with its objection to parts of the election process. The NLRB decision means that the tallying of ballots can move ahead.
It’s a rare union vote for the coffee giant, which has fought off a handful of other unionization efforts over the last two decades. It comes at a time of increasing worker unrest across the U.S.
A union win at any U.S. Starbucks location would be a blow to the company’s image as a progressive, worker-friendly employer.
It could also spur workers at more locations to organize, especially in a tight labor market that has forced restaurant chains to increase pay and benefits in an effort to attract more employees.
When asked for comment, Starbucks referred to remarks released earlier Tuesday by Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson, who addressed employees in a letter.
“We respect the process that is underway and, independent of any outcome in these elections, we will continue to stay true to our Mission and Values,” he wrote.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont met with four Starbucks workers, one from each of the three Buffalo-area locations attempting to unionize, as well as the youngest member of the unionization effort, to discuss their experiences with the effort Monday night.
The town hall was held via video conference on Sanders’ website and social media channels and started with Sanders providing statistics on Starbucks’ profits over the past year, juxtaposing those numbers with the financial status of many of the company’s employees.
“Our younger generation, through no fault of their own, now has a lower standard of living than their parents,” Sanders said. “In other words, the American Dream is going backwards; our younger people are poorer than their parents were at the same age.”
Sanders remarked that he enjoys Starbucks coffee, but later added that he was curious as to what it is like on the other side of the counter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.