Starbucks workers will vote on union at 3 Buffalo stores

If successful, the stores would be the first of Starbucks’ 8,000 company-owned U.S. stores to unionize

Workers hoping to unionize Starbucks stores in the U.S. have won a preliminary victory.

On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled employees at three separate Starbucks stores in Buffalo, New York, can hold union elections in November. 

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Starbucks wanted to hold a single vote with 20 stores in the region, but was rejected.

Starbucks shares were down more than 4% in premarket trading.

If successful, the stores would be the first of Starbucks’ 8,000 company-owned U.S. locations to unionize. The Seattle coffee giant opposes the unionization effort.

Starbucks said Thursday evening that it had just received the ruling and was evaluating its options.

"Our storied success has come from our working directly together as partners, without a third party between us," Starbucks said in a statement. "We remain focused on supporting our partners as well as maintaining open, transparent and direct conversations throughout the process."

STARBUCKS TO INCREASE EMPLOYEE PAY TO ATTRACT WORKERS

The NLRB said the union elections will be held by mail-in ballot between Nov. 10 and Dec. 8. The NLRB will count the ballots on Dec. 9.

There are about 128 employees at the three stores that will vote, according to the NLRB decision.

Amazon workers in New York are seeking to hold a union vote. Amazon workers in Alabama overwhelmingly rejected an effort to form a union there in April.

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Starbucks is raising its U.S. employees’ pay and making other changes as the company deals with a challenging labor market and the union effort.

The coffee giant announced this week that all of its U.S. workers will earn at least $15 — and up to $23 — per hour by next summer.

The company reported record fiscal fourth quarter revenue of $8.1 billion earlier Thursday. Its robust U.S. business helped make up for weakness in China and other markets.

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U.S. same-store sales — or sales at locations open at least a year — jumped 22% in the July-September period.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.