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Buffalo-area Starbucks workers say company is trying to bust up union effort

Workers say managers 'are singling out people that they think are going to vote no or undecided, threatening them, telling them that they could lose everything.'

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The votes in the local Starbucks union election are due on Dec. 8, and workers at the three stores that voted say that they're confident that they will be the first corporate-owned Starbucks in the country to unionize.

They also say the company is continuing to try to bust up the union before it starts.

"All of these support managers are singling out people that they think are going to vote no or undecided, threatening them, telling them that they could lose everything if they vote for the union, trying to pressure people to get their ballots and while telling them that the union is the one causing all of this tension and all of this pressure. So it's really projection, and it's not right," Jaz Brisack of Starbucks Workers United said.

2 On Your Side reached out to Starbucks for a response to those accusations. We did not receive an immediate response.

The goal, Brisack says, isn't necessarily creating unions; the unions are a means to the end. The end, rather, is about changing corporate culture and partners' experiences, day-in and day-out. 

"I think we're lucky because Spot Coffee is an example of a coffee shop union," Brisack told 2 On Your Side earlier this month. "But there's almost no unions in the restaurant coffee industry."

Since August, corporate employees and top executives have made stops in Buffalo and held meetings. It is not clear what role local union efforts have played in past, present and potential future visits.

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