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The New York Times this morning reports that "just days before workers at three Starbucks stores in the Buffalo area were scheduled to begin voting on unionization, both labor and management took steps that reflect the high stakes involved, including an attempt by Starbucks on Monday to delay the election."

The delay follows a previously reported visit by former company CEO Howard Schultz to the area, where he told workers, "We’re not a perfect company.  Mistakes are made. We learn from them, and we try and fix them.”  Schultz also argued that "the company’s history of doing right by its employees, including offering them health care benefits and equity, showed that it had their interests in mind."

The Times notes that "the National Labor Relations Board is scheduled to begin sending ballots to workers at the three stores on Wednesday; they are due back by Dec. 8. Under an October ruling from a regional official of the labor board, the three stores are slated to hold separate elections, meaning that a simple majority at any one of the stores would create a union.

"But on Monday, Starbucks appealed the ruling, arguing that the board’s acting regional director erred in not setting up a single election involving all stores in the Buffalo area instead. It asked the N.L.R.B. in Washington to review the decision, and for a stay in mailing out ballots until the board rules. A single, larger election typically favors the employer."

Meanwhile, the story says, "The union filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board last week accusing the company of unlawfully 'engaging in a campaign of threats, intimidation, surveillance, solicitation of grievances and the closing of facilities' during the election campaign."  The "closing of facilities" referred to in the c complaint occurred over the weekend, when Starbucks closed the stores in question so that employees, if they chose to, could attend the meeting at which Schultz spoke.

There are no corporate Starbucks stores in the US that are unionized.

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