BUFFALO, N.Y. — Local and state Democratic leaders are supporting Buffalo area Starbucks workers in their attempts to unionize.

What You Need To Know

  • Three Starbucks locations in the Buffalo area filed petitions to unionize

  • Workers say they demand a seat at the table when it comes to policies and practices

  • If successful these would be the only three locations out of 8,000 corporate owned stores to unionize

Employees at corporate-owned stores in Buffalo, Cheektowaga and Hamburg filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board to hold official union elections.

Democratic mayoral candidate India Walton and Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) showed their support at a press conference Tuesday.

“Unionizing and in the union hall was where I learned how to stand up for people who couldn’t stand up for themselves, and I am so proud of all of you and the work that you’re doing,” said Walton.

Employees leading the movement say they are addressing chronic understaffing, unpredictable scheduling and insufficient training, all exacerbated by the pandemic.

“This is an issue that’s important to me, not only as a Starbucks employee, but as a human being and a worker,” said Kai Hunter, a partner at Starbucks. “I think it’s very important for workers to have a voice in their work environment since they more often than not are the face of their company, which we are here at Starbucks. We’re called ‘partners’ while we don't have a seat at the table.”

Employees at the event emphasized they are not at war with Starbucks, but are fighting for more representation in policies and decisions.

If successful, the Starbucks stores on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, Genesee Street in Cheektowaga and Camp Road in Hamburg would be the only corporate-owned stores of 8,000 nationwide to unionize.