Amos Hall Starbucks votes to unionize in a landslide


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Starbucks at Amos Hall on Fifth Avenue.

By Jack Troy, Senior Staff Writer

Workers at the Amos Hall Starbucks unionized Friday in a 10-3 vote, creating one of the largest Starbucks unions in the country with 44 eligible employees. 

The National Labor Relations Board announced the results around 2 p.m., tallying ballots initially mailed on April 22. Following the NLRB’s certification of the results, the union can elect a bargaining committee and begin contract negotiations with company representatives. 

The location’s eligible baristas and shift supervisors chose to join Workers United, a Service Employees International Union affiliate representing more than 80,000 workers in North America. The results bolster a wave of successful organizing efforts at more than 50 locations across the country, including one in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood. 

Employees at the store officially petitioned to unionize on March 4, citing staff shortages, limited hours and unresolved concerns with upper management. The complaints were a familiar refrain for Starbucks employees and others working in food service — an industry marked by high turnover and relatively easy-to-replace employees that makes organizing a union particularly difficult

Though company leaders have long maintained a union-free model, more than 200 Starbucks locations — out of 9,000 nationwide — have petitioned to unionize since last August, including eleven this week. Only five elections have ended in confirmed defeat for union organizers as of Tuesday. 

Employees at six other Pittsburgh locations, including one less than a mile from Amos Hall on South Craig Street, have also petitioned to hold union elections, though exact dates are pending. 

Starbucks did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Amos Hall results.

Starbucks Workers United has accused the company of “outrageous anti-union” activities, filing 119 Unfair Labor Practice complaints since Nov. 4. The coffee chain filed two of these charges against Starbucks Workers United in April, citing attempts to intimidate employees and customers who withheld support for unionization. The NLRB has also sued Starbucks for deterring unionization through an “overly-broad and discriminatory” employee handbook.

Company leaders announced pay raises for stores across the country on Tuesday, but said they won’t apply to locations that have unionized or petitioned for a union. Several months ago, organizers said the company threatened to shut down stores in Buffalo, N.Y., the birthplace of Starbucks unionization.

In an email to the Post-Gazette, a Starbucks corporate spokeswoman rejected claims of store closures as “false,” adding that the company respects its employees’ right to organize.