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Starbucks Temporarily Closes Two Buffalo Stores Involved in Union Drive

October 13, 2021

Pulling no punches Starbucks temporarily closed two Buffalo stores at the center of the unionizing drive it now faces.  While many pro-union onlookers see these store closures as an effort to derail union efforts, Starbucks disagrees.  The company claims the two restaurant closures have nothing to do with the union drive, rather one closure is for a planned remodel and the second closure is needed to train new employees. Ultimately, if any of these unionizing efforts are successful, it will mark the first time a corporate owned Starbucks has been unionized and could prove to be a road map for other QSRs. 

Back in September, five Buffalo area Starbucks filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB”) for a union election.  Two of the locations have since withdrawn their petitions in an effort to expedite the election process.  The NLRB is currently in the process of deciding a date for the election and the proper bargaining unit (i.e., workers at each individual location, all Buffalo area workers together, or some unit in between).  The union is advocating for each store to hold its own election while Starbucks has advocated that all of its 450 Buffalo area workers should be permitted to vote.

While the store with ongoing renovations should, at least in theory, have a clear reopen date, the reopening plans for the second store is more ambiguous as this location has been closed for weeks and is being used as a training site for new hires.  The store is part a new training program recently launched by Starbucks, and as such it will be used as a new training hub for area Starbucks and is to remain closed indefinitely.  Workers that previously worked at the new training center have been redeployed to other area stores.

Clearly, we have not heard the end of the story regarding the Buffalo Starbucks as much more will be learned in the coming weeks after the NLRB makes its ruling and the vote(s) is held.

Brody and Associates regularly advises its clients on all labor management issues, including union-related matters, and provides union-free training.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.