Steven M. Swirsky, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “Starbucks Union Seeks Results as Campaign Goes National,” by Tim Ryan. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

A campaign to unionize Starbucks stores across the country has captivated the labor world following representation election wins at two locations in Buffalo, New York, though it remains to be seen how durable the effort will be and whether it will result in any labor contracts.

Workers at more than two dozen Starbucks across the country have filed petitions to be represented by Workers United after the union won elections creating the first two union shops at the coffee giant. The announcements, posted as letters on Starbucks Workers United's social media pages, have given labor advocates hope that the campaign will successfully organize the famously union-averse company. …

But other experts said the grassroots method of organizing that the union has undertaken comes with risks, such as stretching union resources and possibly diluting the power of union shops when it comes time to negotiate a labor contract. …

Steven Swirsky, an attorney who represents employers at Epstein Becker Green, said a potential downside of the union's current approach to organizing at Starbucks is that momentum can be difficult to sustain in an industry famous for high turnover. He said a core group of supporters with aligned interests and goals would be important to keeping momentum alive, especially during difficult contract fights.

The extent to which the campaign can sustain itself will also depend on whether the union is able to negotiate agreements with Starbucks, whether the deals live up to workers' expectations and how those expectations are set in the first place, Swirsky said.

"If employees in an area or in stores that are not part of this don't see anything tangible coming out of it in the stores where the union has won an election or been recognized, it may undermine whatever is driving it," Swirsky said.


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