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.

Mail-In Voting

In select instances, the NLRB may decide to conduct a store’s union representation election by mail-in ballot rather than in-person. Should the NLRB order a mail-ballot election, you will be notified of the change in advance. Refer to the posted Notice of Election for more information.

Step 1

Open the envelope and make sure all of the expected contents are enclosed (a ballot, blue envelope and yellow envelope).

Step 2

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

Step 3

Place your ballot in the blue envelope and seal it.

Step 4

Place the blue envelope in the yellow envelope and seal it.

Step 5

Sign the yellow envelope across the flap on the back, then mail your ballot.

10 Things to Know About a Union

  1. Unions are a business, just like Starbucks, and make their money by collecting member dues.
  2. If certified, 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.
  3. When a union accuses a company of an unfair labor practice (ULP), the NLRB decides whether or not an investigation is warranted. Deciding that a ULP has merit is not an endorsement of the charge or a finding of any wrongdoing.
  4. On average, it takes more than a year for a union and employer to reach a first contract.
  5. In a final agreement, the union might negotiate away current conditions that matter a lot to you.
  6. You can vote “no” to form a union even if you signed a union card.
  7. A contract could prohibit your store manager from working directly with you on any employment concerns, or prohibit you from swapping shifts in your store, picking up shifts at other stores.
  8. Compensation can increase, decrease or remain the same – it can be a gamble.
  9. The union may require that its members must strike and walk off the job without their regular pay, or face fines and assessments.
  10. 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 Workers United and other unions petitioning Starbucks stores

Who is seeking to represent partners?

Workers United and several other unions are seeking to represent partners. 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). On average, it takes unions and management more than a year to negotiate and then implement first agreements. Once CBAs are completed, changes to that agreement are generally not made again until the next negotiations. See more about this below.


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. 

Across the negotiating table, we’ll hear a shared voice, mediated through a third-party – one who is coming to know who we are and how we operate for the first time. This could lead to lengthier discussions as both sides bargain with each other.

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 10 vote in the election, and 6 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 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. You have the right to choose the future you want at Starbucks – and to tell other partners that you believe partners will benefit more by working directly with Starbucks than they will through a third-party.

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 (PRSC) 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 the union is certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as the collective bargaining representative of the partners, that store and every partner that 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, a process that can take a year or more for a first contract. 

What Unions are Saying

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

Not without Starbucks agreement. Workers United cannot force Starbucks to make any changes at all. Starbucks would have to agree to changes during the collective bargaining process which takes an average of more than a year to complete. Voting for union representation will not automatically change pay, benefits, or how we operate in any way.

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

No. If voted in, Workers United 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. If the union were voted in, Workers United would become your only voice.

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.

About How Unions Work

What are union dues? What are they used for?

Unions are a business, just like Starbucks – only unions make their money from member dues instead of great coffee. 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 such as political contributions. 

If your store is unionized, Workers United may make you pay dues to continue working in your store. Any dues that are collected from member paychecks would go to Workers United, not to partners.

What are union cards?

Union cards, or authorization cards, look like simple survey cards or RSVPs, but they are actually legal documents with legal significance. Signing the card is a big decision, not just a show of support – it indicates you are choosing to join and agree to have a union be your only voice. When 30% of partners in a store sign union cards, the union can petition for an election with the NLRB.

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.