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Votes impounded for 3 area Starbucks looking to unionize

Ian Hayes, an attorney working with the union, says Starbucks has made the same Request for Review that it has at other stores in order to delay the vote.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Votes that were scheduled to be counted for three area Starbucks looking to unionize have been impounded.

On Wednesday, when the votes were scheduled to be counted, it was announced the votes would be impounded because of a pending decision on a Request for Review filed by Starbucks. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) did not reach a ruling on the request before the vote was scheduled to take place.

The stores that votes were impounded are the Walden Avenue and Anderson Road in Cheektowaga, Sheridan Drive and Bailey Avenue in Amherst, and French Road and Transit Road in Depew.

Ian Hayes, an attorney working with the union, said the Request for Review was the same as one issued for a vote count in Mesa, Arizona, which was supposed to happen last week. NLRB didn't rule on the request until after the count was scheduled to take place. It did rule in favor of the Mesa store on Wednesday.

"This here is what union busting looks like in America in 2022," Hayes said at a press conference after the votes were impounded.

He criticized NLRB its inaction and Starbucks for delaying the vote counts. 

“The ballots were impounded today based on two factors: the NLRB’s inaction, and Starbucks doing all it can to stop partners’ votes from being counted. Under the Board’s rules, the company can file a request for review within ten days of a decision and the ballots will be impounded if the Board doesn’t decide on it. If the company wanted to have the legal merits of their arguments heard without affecting the vote count, it was free to do that by filing its request after the ten-day period," Hayes said. 

"Instead, it deliberately filed at the very end of the ten days, so that the ballots would be impounded. Starbucks will imply they had nothing to do with this further delay in the voting process by vaguely gesturing towards the legal process. That is a farce. This would not have happened without their strategic decision. This is exactly the result the Starbucks wanted, and the NLRB handed it to them today.”

Added Rachel Cohen, a shift supervisor at the Sheridan Drive and Bailey Avenue store: “This is now the second time that ballots have been impounded for Starbucks union elections in the past week. This comes after we already waited months to exercise our fundamental right to organize a union. Starbucks must end their anti-union campaign. You cannot be for sustainability, anti-racist, and pro-LGBTQ+ and be anti-union.”

A spokesperson from Starbucks responded to a release from Starbucks Workers united by saying, "Our position since the beginning has been that all partners in a market or district deserve the right to vote on a decision that will impact them. We will continue to respect the NLRB’s process and advocate for our partners’ ability to make their voices heard."

The Buffalo store at Delaware and Chippewa filed to vote for unionization at the end of January. The Elmwood store is currently in contract negotiations with Starbucks.

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