New Orleans Starbucks is the first in Louisiana to vote Union | Economic news

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Workers at a Starbucks store in New Orleans have voted to form a union, becoming the first of the coffee giant’s Louisiana locations to unionize.

Ballots were cast Friday and Saturday 11-1 in favor of joining Workers United, which represents unionized Starbucks stores, WWNO-FM reported. Two ballots were disputed, the station said.

The New Orleans vote is the latest in a string of victories for workers at Starbucks stores across the country and comes about a week after workers in Birmingham, Alabama voted 27-1 to become the first Unionized Starbucks of this state.

Barista Caitlyn Pierce and others wanted to unionize because of regular shifts where they were overworked and understaffed, the station reported.

“I feel amazing,” Pierce said. “It’s something we’ve worked so hard for and it’s just great to get to this point.”

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Starbucks has fought union organizing efforts, saying its 9,000 company-owned U.S. stores work best when Starbucks works directly with employees, whom the company calls “partners.”

In a statement on Sunday, Starbucks said it was “listening and learning” and added, “We respect our partner’s right to organize.” The statement did not say whether the company would challenge the vote.

Billie Nyx, the main organizer of the union campaign, was fired in mid-May for closing the store early without permission from senior management. Nyx disputes the dismissal, saying it was retaliation for defending unions.

Nyx said they would meet with their attorney and bring together those still working at the store to solidify specific demands for contract negotiations.

To win the changes they seek — like better wages and more reliable hours — unionized stores still have to sit down with Starbucks and negotiate a contract. It is a laborious process that can take years.

A Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, became the first in the United States to unionize late last year. Based in Seattle, the company has more than 34,000 stores worldwide.

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