NEW ORLEANS – Employees at a Starbucks store in New Orleans voted to form a union, becoming the first of the coffee giant's locations in Louisiana to unionize.
Ballots were cast Friday and Saturday 11-1 in favor of joining Workers United, which represents the unionized Starbucks stores, WWNO-FM reported. Two ballots were challenged, the station said.
The New Orleans vote is the latest in a series of wins for labor at Starbucks stores across the nation, and comes about a week after workers in Birmingham, Alabama, voted 27-to-1 to become that state’s first unionized Starbucks.
Barista Caitlyn Pierce and others wanted to unionize because of regular shifts where they were overworked and understaffed, the station reported.
“I’m feeling amazing,” Pierce said. “This is something we worked so hard for and it’s just great to finally get here.”
Starbucks has fought unionization efforts, saying its 9,000 company-owned U.S. stores function best when Starbucks works directly with employees, which the company calls “partners.”
In a statement Sunday, Starbucks said it was “listening and learning,” and added, “We respect our partner’s right to organize.” The statement didn’t say whether the company would challenge the vote.
Billie Nyx, lead organizer of the union campaign, was fired in mid-May for closing the store early without permission from higher management. Nyx is contesting the dismissal, saying it was in retaliation for union advocacy.
Nyx said they will meet with their lawyer and gather those still working at the store to solidify specific demands for the contract negotiations.
To win the changes they seek — like better pay and more reliable schedules — unionized stores must still sit down with Starbucks and negotiate a contract. It’s a painstaking process that can take years.
A Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, became the first in the United States to unionize late last year. Based in Seattle, the company has more than 34,000 stores worldwide.