Starbucks experienced a hole in the dike in December with employees at one Buffalo, NY location voting to create their first unionized cafe in the company’s 50-year history. The very existence of Starbucks Workers United (part of Workers United, an SEIU affiliate), without a doubt, points towards ramped-up union activity in a previously difficult-to-organize industry, partially due to high turnover among staff.

In the aftermath of the coffeehouse giant’s seemingly invulnerable streak ending, an increasing number of the company’s 8,000+ cafes are looking to spring further leaks:

  • A second Starbucks in the Buffalo area voted to unionize with the NLRB confirming the news this week. Starbucks could choose to appeal within 10 days of this vote; if that appeal isn’t successful, the union vote becomes final, and the company must bargain with Starbucks Workers United. Conversely, the union lost an election at a third cafe in the Buffalo area, and the union is appealing that outcome.
  • Starbucks employees throughout the U.S. are reportedly hoping to start a tidal wave. The NRLB ordered an election for an Arizona cafe, and workers in Massachusetts, Arizona, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado, New Jersey, and Tennessee also petitioned the NLRB for elections. Likewise, more Buffalo cafes and locations in Seattle (the home base of Starbucks and where it all began for them) wish to swiftly hop aboard the organizing bandwagon.

While the entire restaurant world watches, more developments are sure to come. 

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