As Buffalo-Area Starbucks' Rally To Unionize, Corporate "Support Managers" Keep Showing Up At Stores

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021 - 09:50 PM

Starbucks employees at several Buffalo area stores have filed for union elections. Not long after, "support managers" from Starbucks corporate started showing up for site visits. 

The corporate employees are "part of a counteroffensive" by the company to help sniff out and prevent unionizing, employees told the New York Times

Executives from out of town have also made an increasing number of visits, a move that Starbucks says is "standard company practice" and is to help "improve training". 

Decade long Starbucks veteran Michelle Eisen said: “For a lot of newer baristas, it’s an imposing force. It is not an easy job. It should not be complicated further by feeling like you’re having everything you’re doing or saying watched and listened to.”

Starbucks employee Alexis Rizzo said: “It’s insane. Even if you’re just trying to run to the back to grab a gallon of milk, you now have to run an obstacle course to fit between all the folks who have no real reason to be there.”

She said it was "intimidating" and that dozens of employees could all be in the store at once. 

A Starbucks spokesman said: “The listening sessions led to requests from partners that resulted in those actions. It’s not a decision where our leadership came in and said, ‘We’re going to do this and this.’ We listened, heard their concerns.”

Starbucks has so far staved off similar uprisings for unions in New York City in the early 2000s and in Philadelphia in 2019. 

According to the NY Times, "Starbucks is also seeking to persuade the labor board to require that workers at all 20 Buffalo-area stores take part in the election, rather than allow stores to vote individually, arguing that employees can spend time at multiple locations."

As of now, none of Starbucks' 9,000 locations are unionized. The National Labor Relations Board says union elections should be able to take place in an environments free of intimidation. Former NLRB chair Wilma Liebman said that Starbucks' actions could eventually result in a union election being set aside, should the union lose.

“You could say it’s part of an overall series of events that seems to create a tendency that people would be chilled or inhibited,” she said.