Baristas at a Starbucks location in suburban La Grange voted against forming a union Friday, becoming the first in Illinois to do so after workers at stores in Peoria and Cary voted in favor of joining the union last week.
The 9-6 vote comes a few days after interim CEO Howard Schultz announced new pay raises and benefits that he said would not apply to employees at stores that have unionized or sought to do so. The company is raising pay for employees who have worked for the company for at least two years and significantly increased training time for new baristas and shift supervisors.
Starbucks Workers United, the Service Employees International Union affiliate representing Starbucks workers, has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board. In a statement Wednesday, the group called Schultz’s plan to exclude unionized stores from the benefits “blatantly unlawful.”
A Starbucks spokesperson Wednesday said the company “lacks the right to unilaterally make these changes” at stores “where there is a union or union organizing.”
Workers at the La Grange store, at 8 S. La Grange Road, filed for union representation in early January, organizers said. At the time, 13 employees at the store signed union authorization cards, said Grace Easterby, an organizer with the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United.
In a statement Friday, organizers said workers had been “forced to undergo five months of aggressive, and quite possibly unlawful union-busting tactics as they waited to vote.”
Organizers also pointed to Schultz’s statements that unionization would prevent employees from accessing specific wage increases and benefits. Ballots were mailed out to La Grange employees on April 13 and were due May 4, Easterby said. May 4 was the day after Schultz announced new raises and changes in benefits.
“Clearly, no Starbucks union election has been a fair election,” the organizers said in a written statement Friday.
“Chicago area partners are disappointed in today’s result, but they will keep fighting and are more motivated than ever to overcome this adversity. This isn’t the end of the movement, just the beginning,” the statement read.
Employees at over 240 Starbucks locations have filed for union elections in 33 states, said Casey Moore, a barista on the Starbucks Workers United communications committee. Out of 66 stores that have had elections, 56 have voted to unionize, Moore said. The results of four elections were still undetermined.
Last week, workers at Starbucks locations in Cary and Peoria became the first in Illinois to win union elections. Employees at six city Starbucks have filed for union representation, with elections scheduled in May and June.
The Associated Press contributed.
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