A Starbucks store in upstate New York made history on Thursday by becoming the first Starbucks location in the United States to form a union.

The Buffalo coffee shop is one of three Starbucks in the area whose employees voted on whether to organize. The vote total was 19 workers in favor of forming a union versus eight who voted against it.

A second Starbucks location voted against unionizing in a 12-8 vote. The third store's votes are in contention as several ballots are being challenged, although the union is leading at that third location with 15 in favor and nine opposed.

A group calling itself Starbucks Workers United is representing employees at the three stores in hopes of joining an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Workers cited a perceived lack of training, issues with pay, understaffing, and stressful working conditions as factors behind the union drive, which first launched in August.


“Victory at Elmwood, the first unionized Starbucks store in the United States—history made!!!” Starbucks Workers United proclaimed on Twitter on Thursday afternoon after results from the first store’s election came through.

The unionization effort made headlines nationwide, especially because of the implication that success could spur interest among some of Starbucks’ thousands of locations. Union organizers in Buffalo say the Seattle-based coffee giant has pushed back on their efforts.

Since the three stores began voting, three other Buffalo locations have appeared before the National Labor Relations Board to ask for permission to vote as well. Additionally, Starbucks workers at a store in Mesa, Arizona, filed paperwork with the NLRB asking the same.


A Starbucks representative previously told the Washington Examiner the company doesn’t oppose the right to organize but thinks it's unnecessary given the work environment and benefits, which include medical, vision, and dental plans, as well as discounted company stock.

"We will continue to focus on the best Starbucks experience we can deliver for each other and our customers. We are grateful for each customer who exercised their right to vote, and as we move forward, we will continue to focus on working to exceed the expectations of all our partners and our customers," a Starbucks spokesman told the Washington Examiner on Thursday. "Independent of the outcome of these elections we respect the process and will continue to stay true to our mission and values."