The Voting Process & Why Partners Should Vote

Many union elections at Starbucks have been determined by a handful of votes. If you don’t vote, you’re giving others the power to make decisions about your life.

Under federal law, elections are decided by a majority of the votes actually cast – not the majority of partners in a store – so making your voice heard is crucial.

In-Person Voting

Step 1

Know where and when to vote. Voting times and polling location can be found on back-of-house fliers and the NLRB’s Notice of Election.

Step 2

Arrive at your polling location within the voting time window.

Step 3

Confirm your identity and receive your ballot. You may be asked to show identification.

Step 4

Cast your vote. Voting “Yes” means the union will speak for you. Voting “No” means you’ll continue speaking for yourself and working directly with Starbucks leadership.

5 Things to Know About a Union

  1. If certified as your store’s representation, the union becomes your “voice,” and you will no longer be able to address your individual terms and conditions of employment with your Starbucks leaders directly.
  2. You can vote “no” to form a union even if you signed a union card.
  3. A union contract could prohibit your store manager from working directly with you on employment concerns, conditions or terms.
  4. A union may require that its members must strike and walk off the job without their regular pay, or face fines and assessments.
  5. In most states, a union can require you to pay union dues or fees to keep your job and it can use your dues to fund things you might not support, like political campaigns or candidates.

Got Questions?

Below are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.
Your choice is too important not to have the facts.

About unions

What is a labor union?

Labor unions are a business – they are not a cause, a movement or group of “partners for partners.” They are a business that makes money via member dues (this means – in most states — every member of a union can have a portion of their paycheck go to the union).

Unions collect requests from employees and present them to management in what is referred to as a “Collective Bargaining Agreement” (CBA). Once CBAs are completed, changes to that agreement are generally not made again until the next negotiations. See more about this below.

What are union dues? What are they used for?

A union’s income is from member dues. In most states, union dues are taken out of member paychecks whether they voted for the union or not.  These dues are used to pay for their office overhead, staff salaries and other expenses which may include political contributions and lobbying. 

If your store is unionized, and depending on which state you are in, a union may make you pay dues to continue working in your store. Any dues that are collected from member paychecks would go to the union, not to partners or the company.

What are union cards?

Union cards, or authorization cards, look like electronic signature page, a simple survey or a postcard, but they are actually legal documents with legal significance. Signing the card is a big decision, and these cards can be a legally binding document that is likely to be used to demand union recognition or initiate an election for your store. When 30% of partners in a store sign union cards, the union can petition the NLRB to hold an election.

What if I want my signed card back?

If you change your mind, you can ask the union for your card back. This might be hard to do, but it is your right. Regardless, it’s important for you to know that even if you signed a union card, you can still vote “No” in an election. The ballot is secret. The final choice is yours and yours alone.


Why do we believe voting “No” is best for partners?

Starbucks legacy of working side-by-side to create industry firsts for partners and the new investments we are making now as a result of our co-collaboration sessions shows what we can do together and how quickly we can do it.  Side-by-side, we can hear YOUR voice directly from you. We can work quickly to define what changes are needed most. We can efficiently get to solutions to support your physical, financial, and mental health, together. 

Why is it important for me to vote?

Many of these elections are determined by one or a handful of votes. If you don’t vote, you’re giving others the power to make decisions about YOU. YOUR life. YOUR workplace. YOUR paycheck. Under federal law, elections are decided by a majority of the votes cast – NOT the majority of partners.

For example, if 20 partners work in a store, but only 5 vote in the election, and 3 vote for the union, then all 20 partners will be union-represented. So that means other partners – maybe only a few – will make your choices and speak for you. We hope you choose to VOTE and vote for what is best for you.

What can I do if I feel intimidated to vote a certain way in the election?

First, voting for a union is done by secret ballot. Every partner has the right to vote confidentially without anyone else knowing the choice they made. People will only know how you voted if you tell them. You have the right to choose the future you want at Starbucks – and to tell other partners how you feel about this issue.

What if that doesn’t work?

Partners have the right to feel seen, safe and supported at work so they can focus on doing their job, being themselves at work and serving our customers. Starbucks policies against harassment, discrimination, workplace violence and bullying remain in effect to protect our partners.

If anyone is feeling unreasonably pressured about anything at work, they can talk to their RD, RVP, PRO, call Partner Relations at 888-7289-411 or Ethics & Compliance at 800-611-7792 for confidential guidance and support.

If there’s a majority of “Yes” votes, what happens next? 

If the majority of the votes are for the union, and over the course of the next weeks the union is certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as the collective bargaining representative of that store and every partner who works there in a covered job classification becomes represented by the union.

In most states, you can’t decide to opt-out of union representation if your store unionizes and your position is one of those within the bargaining unit represented by the union. Then, collective bargaining usually begins, which means negotiations start between Starbucks and union representatives.

What happens next

Can unions make Starbucks change the way stores are operated or change policies?

Not without Starbucks agreement. Unions cannot force Starbucks to make any changes at all. Starbucks would have to agree to changes during the collective bargaining process. Voting for union representation will not automatically change pay, benefits, or how we operate.

If a union is voted in, can I still deal directly with my manager for my own issues?

No. If voted in, the union would serve as the “exclusive bargaining representative” for partners. In other words, you would have to rely on them to speak for you on your terms and conditions of employment. In fact, under the National Labor Relations Act, Starbucks would be prohibited from directly dealing with you in regard to your terms and conditions of employment. 

Without a union, you can speak for yourself, directly to your leaders and support partners. 

What about part-time partners? Are they excluded from union participation?

No. In most states, barista and shift supervisors would become dues paying union members if their store unionized, regardless of full-time or part-time status.