Starbucks union push adds second Long Island location
A second Long Island Starbucks has joined dozens of others across the country in a push for unionization.
Employees at the Massapequa Village Square Starbucks at 4301 Merrick Rd. have signed and submitted union cards to the National Labor Relations Board seeking to hold a union vote. The employees are filing for union recognition with the Workers United New York New Jersey Regional Board, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.
Twenty-six of the store’s 35 employees have signed union cards, according to organizers. To request a vote, 30% of employees must sign.
"At the end of the day it’s not about having any animosity toward the company," said Hannah Taustine, 21, a barista and one of the organizers at the Massapequa shop. "We want a place at the table to talk to Starbucks corporate on issues we might face at the individual level and on storewide issues."
The Massapequa workers' move comes just days after employees at a store in Great Neck and workers at three locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn petitioned for a union vote on March 3. The wave of union activity follows two Buffalo locations that successfully voted to unionize last fall. A third store upstate voted against unionizing.
"A lot of us are definitely inspired by the Buffalo stores," said Taustine, a Massapequa Park native.
A spokesman for Starbucks said the company was aware of 85 stores nationwide petitioning for a union out of its U.S. total of 9,000 locations.
Store locations have been organizing independent of each other, but the company said in an email to Newsday Monday that it had requested that the NLRB hold a market- or district-wide vote in Buffalo and Mesa, Arizona, as the union vote is a "decision that would affect all partners in a market or a district, and we believe that all affected partners should have a voice."
Labor experts said that strategy makes union organizers' task more difficult, since they must then win over a larger, far-flung group of workers, instead of the small number of employees found at a typical store location.
A severe labor shortage has given workers at service businesses more leverage. That situation, combined with the challenge of working in customer-facing roles during the pandemic, has made employees more willing to advocate for themselves, said Cathy Creighton, director of Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations office in Buffalo.
The union effort by Starbucks employees is uncommon, Creighton said last week, citing federal labor statistics that show food and beverage workers represent only about 1.2% of unionized workers nationwide.