KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Workers at Starbucks on Merchants Drive voted Tuesday to unionize their location, according to officials from Workers United, the union that represents Starbucks Workers United.
Site employees voted 8 to 7 to unionize, with only one vote affecting the decision. The site was officially certified on April 4th. The store is the tenth to vote nationally to organize and the ninth to vote to move. Other locations, including five stores in Buffalo, NY, two stores in Mesa, AZ, and one in Seattle, WA, recently voted to unionize.
Union officials said the decision to organize is particularly difficult for Starbucks workers because of the company’s involvement in anti-union activities.
“Fortunately, despite all the aggressive corporate anti-union tactics used throughout this campaign, workers’ rights have prevailed here in Knoxville,” said Maggie Carter, a Knoxville organizing committee leader. “We are paving our way to a successful partnership with this company that we truly love and it has taken a lot of patience and perseverance to reach this moment.”
Starbucks officials told the Associated Press that they believe their businesses work better when they work directly with employees rather than through third parties. “The voting results will not change our shared purpose or how we will perform for one another,” Rossann Williams, Starbucks executive vice president, said in a letter to employees.
Some Starbucks employees across the country have asked former CEO-turned-interim CEO Howard Schultz to sign the Fair Elections Principles, a set of proposed rules that will ensure employees have fair elections to choose from at their locations unionize or not.
Last month, the Associated Press reported that seven employees who tried to organize at a Starbucks in Memphis were fired. The company had cited security concerns at the time. Starbucks Corporate claimed the firing was because non-union employees entered the store after it closed to do an interview with a local news station.
Another Knoxville store on Montvue Place is scheduled to begin voting on unionization next month.
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