Bloomberg Law
April 28, 2023, 2:57 PM

Starbucks Workers in Buffalo Store File Petition to Oust Union

Parker Purifoy
Parker Purifoy

Workers at a Starbucks Corp. cafe in Buffalo, N.Y., have petitioned to oust Workers United as their representative, a little more than a year since they voted to unionize.

The decertification petition was filed Friday with the National Labor Relations Board for a store in downtown Buffalo known as the “Del-Chip” cafe. The location was the sixth Buffalo-area Starbucks store to organize in April 2022 after employees there voted 18-1 in favor of representation.

A viable decertification bid must be filed at least a year after the unit’s certification—April 14 for the Del-Chip cafe—with proof that at least 30% of the workers support an effort to unseat the union, according to NLRB rules.

The decertification petition strikes the union at the heart of its campaign, which began in Buffalo in 2021 before spreading to over 300 other locations around the US.

None of the 293 certified units have negotiated a first contract or even a tentative agreement, and the parties are engaged in escalating accusations of bad-faith bargaining. SBWU has lodged hundreds of unfair labor practice charges against the coffee giant, accusing it of various labor law violations, including stalling negotiations to undermine the union’s support and keep them from getting a contract.

NLRB lawyers have issued 85 complaints against Starbucks based on these complaints, which have resulted in two decisions from the board and 10 decisions from administrative law judges, according to an NLRB spokesperson.

Starbucks says SBWU has illegally broadcast sessions by patching in representatives from across the country on Zoom, and the company has filed dozens of its own bad-faith bargaining ULPs with the NLRB, which has rejected those charges.

Friday’s decertification petition is the third such petition filed against SBWU. The first two, filed in Oklahoma and Georgia, were withdrawn before an election date could be set.

SBWU’s lawyers have said the union plans to file blocking charges in the case of a decertification campaign. The blocking charges would force the NLRB to set aside results from an election until the underlying ULP allegations are litigated.

To contact the reporter on this story: Parker Purifoy in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at; Laura D. Francis at

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