Buffalo union vote results and what matters most

A letter to Starbucks partners (employees) from Rossann Williams, evp, president North America


What I’ve learned and love so deeply about us is that we are built on human connection. Our strength comes from our relationships and how we show up for each other. Partners listen and hear each other, bear witness to what’s happening in each others’ lives, support each other, celebrate successes, figure out challenges together, and discuss ideas that make us all better. It’s incredibly special. Everything we do best and love most about Starbucks is thanks to partners working together and supporting one another. I want to thank you for everything you do each and every day to bring the very best of Starbucks to life. I am proud to be on this journey together.

For the last three months in Buffalo, we’ve been working hard on creating the very best Starbucks partner experience. And we’ve been learning a lot about unions and hearing talk of “corporate versus partners.” What I know is that we are all partners and we, all of us, ARE Starbucks. Every day I work alongside the most incredibly talented partners. We will keep listening, we will keep connecting and we will keep being in service of one another because that’s what we’ve always done and what it means to be partner.

Partners in three Buffalo stores voted on union representation and the ballots were counted today. We had a split vote: one store voted to keep working directly together, one store voted to be represented by a union, and the third store doesn’t have a final result because some unopened “challenged” ballots can determine the tally. It may be some time before we know if or when those ballots can be opened and counted. 

So what happens from here? Put simply, we continue on as we did today, yesterday and the day before that. These are preliminary results with no immediate changes to our partner relationship as the NLRB process continues.

Most important, the vote outcomes will not change our shared purpose or how we will show up for each other. We want to protect partner flexibility, transferability and benefits across all stores in a market or a district because we know that’s important to partners. This is why we strongly believe that every partner in a district or market should have the opportunity to vote on such an important decision.

Starbucks is one of the most respected and admired companies in the world, built by partners in service of partners, customers and neighborhoods all across the country. I am so proud to be your partner and to continue moving forward stronger, together.

We want every partner to love working at Starbucks. We will keep finding new and better ways to continue leading on wages and benefits, improve our listening and active partnership, and keep building a company that matters. Because we are partners.

Warm regards,