ABC | Starbucks employees vote to unionize at Buffalo location.

Quote by Lane Windham, labor historian at Georgetown University against a background of Starbucks employees. The quote says

Posted in In the News News

KI Associate Director Lane Windham speaks on the unionization effort of Starbucks workers in Buffalo on ABC’s podcast, Start Here. Listen to the interview here or read the transcript below.

It’s a very big deal. This is the first group of Starbucks workers in this country who have voted on a union. So many eyes have been on this election, esp among young people.

Young people are particularly interested in forming unions. Recent Gallup polling shows that 77% of young people ages 18-34 support unions. That’s who’s working at these Starbucks stores. 

I think that many other young workers across the country are going to be taking a cue from these young people in New York.

Some people may say, “Starbucks has good benefits, good pay.” These have generally been considered good service jobs, right? I think we’re learning just how relative that is.


The employer, Starbucks, pulled out the playbook that employers have been using for the last 30-40 years and did exactly the kinds of things that bosses have been doing for a long time to keep people from forming unions. 

They’ve forced people into meetings against the union. They’ve brought in lots of supervisors and often overwhelmed workers with people urging them to vote no.

What’s so interesting is that the young people are going through a moment. They’re going through something new and experiencing something new. They’re uniting in a new way. The employers are doing the same old thing. Nothing new from the employers.

What I’m very curious to see moving forward is whether the employers start to change their tune and move away from the same anti-union playbook. 


We’ve already seen that 3 more stores in the Buffalo area and 1 in Arizona have filed for union elections. I would not be surprised at all if we see, over the next several months, workers at Starbucks stores and other retail and restaurants across the country if workers come together and try to push for a Labor Board election for a union.

We just heard that in October, 4.2 million people quit their jobs. That’s after 4.1 million people quit their jobs in September. We’re living in a moment that economists are calling the Great Resignation. 

I think we should call it what it is: a slow-moving general strike. I think that these young people who are organizing at Starbucks, it’s all part of the same thing. It’s all part of a moment where people are interested in workers’ rights, where they are fed up and aren’t taking it anymore. 

Workers are feeling more empowered, it’s all part of this same moment. The organizing. The strikes. What I’d call a slow-moving general strike.