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Five Starbucks stores in Virginia vote to unionize

Starbucks baristas just added another five stores that have voted to be represented by a union. The nascent labor movement at the Seattle-based coffee giant — which has already organized 26 stores and could potentially claim another 200 who have petitioned to join a union — is claiming victory at five Richmond, Virginia area stores which on Tuesday voted in favor of union representation. They are the first stores in Virginia to vote on the issue and Starbucks Workers United – the organization fueling the labor movement – gleefully tweeted “Virginia is for UNION lovers.” Just four months ago, there were no Starbucks stores that were represented by a union. A Buffalo, NY store became the first in December and opened the floodgates. The Seattle giant is fighting back. Chief executive Howard Schultz, who built the chain into a global empire and recently took over the helm again on an interim basis, has embarked on a tour of the stores nationwide to dissuade employees against unionization. Part of his plan involves enhanced benefits to employees who are not represented by a union. The benefits are meant to stanch attrition at the 9,000 US stores and Schultz said they can’t “legally” be extended to union stores, according to a Wall Street Journal report. While employees at 26 stores that voted in favor of union representation, about 15 stores have been certified by the National Relations Labor Board. Starbucks Workers United has accused the company of interfering with elections and of firing pro-union employees.

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