Workers at a New York Starbucks store became the first to vote in favor of unionizing. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 9 (UPI) -- A Starbucks in Buffalo, N.Y., became the first company-owned store to unionize after workers voted 19-to-8 to join Starbucks Workers United.
The store was among three Buffalo-area stores to vote on unionization. A second store voted 12-8 against unionization and ballots were still be counted for the third store, the Buffalo News and NPR reported.
Ballots were distributed by mail and had to be returned by Wednesday.
Both sides will have a chance to challenge the results before the National Labor Relations Board certifies the votes.
The vote has drawn national attention. Food services and drinking places are among the least unionized industries in the United States, with about 1.5% of employees represented by unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Every social justice movement has started from the ground up, from a handful of people who stepped forward to demand change," Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., said in a statement. "It took incredible courage for Western New York Starbucks workers to speak out, forge ahead with organizing amid enormous corporate pressures and fight to be heard."
Starbucks, which operates 8,953 stores in the United States, previously fought off efforts in New York City and Philadelphia to unionize.
Three other Starbucks stores in New York and one in Arizona also have filed petitions with federal regulators requesting elections. Employees seeking to join Workers United have advocated for better staffing, training and pay.
In October, Starbucks announced it would raise its starting pay to $15 an hour.