Arizona Starbucks is the first to join union outside of New York

The Mesa Starbucks is the first union outside of Buffalo, New York. This is where organizing efforts began.

Arizona Starbucks is the first to join union outside of New York

MESA, Ariz. -- Friday's vote by employees at a Starbucks in suburban Phoenix to form a union was a first outside of New York.

After the results were announced, workers at Mesa Starbucks cheered and hugged one another at a local union hall. The overwhelming majority of workers voted 25-3 in favor unionization. According to organizers, initial mailings of 43 ballots were made.

"The way we smoked them and how many we got -- yeses -- it really shows that this movement is for people and that we just want what's kind of an inalienable rights for people," Liz Alanna, shift supervisor at the shop said. It feels great what we were fighting to get, everyone wanted.

Starbucks "will respect this process and will negotiate in good faith," Reggie Borges, a spokesperson for the company, stated in an email.

He said, "We hope the union does the exact same,"

Pro-union leaders believe that Starbucks workers should be able to bargain collectively on issues such as benefits, seniority pay, and pandemic safety protocols.

Tyler Ralston, another shift supervisor said that he was excited about the possibility of workers making meaningful changes.

"We would like to feel less understaffed. We want to work in better conditions and have things done on time. Ralston stated that a pension would be great.

The election, originally scheduled for last week was delayed after Starbucks requested a review by the Washington, D.C.-based National Labor Relations Board.

Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks argued that only one store should be allowed to vote. A vote should instead include all locations within the store's designated district.

The labor board denied the request and stated that it didn't see any problems.

Alanna stated that Mesa organizers called the request a "union-busting" tactic. She claimed that Starbucks also employed other strategies, such as having top-ranking managers shadow workers to ensure they weren't organizing.

Borges, a Starbucks spokesperson, described accusations of union-busting as "categorically false".

Starbucks Mesa is the first union outside of Buffalo, New York where organizing efforts began.

According to Workers United, 65 stores from 20 states have filed petitions to the labor board for union elections. Two of Buffalo's unionized in the past few months.

Starbucks representatives have spoken out against unionizing, arguing that the company is more efficient when it works directly with its employees. Some workers dispute that assertion.

Tensions have resulted from attempts to form unions. Seven Starbucks employees were fired earlier this month for leading a union campaign that was held in Memphis, Tennessee. They claimed they had violated company policy by opening a store after it closed, inviting employees inside and conducting TV interviews.

The employees countered that Starbucks was retaliating, and stated they would file a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board.

Unions are a popular strategy after decades of decline. Multiple polls indicate that younger workers are more likely to approve of unions and that they are growing in popularity. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. union membership is increasing for workers aged 25-34, while they are declining among other age groups.

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