This article was written by Victor Ocasio for Newsday.
A Massapequa Starbucks has become the first on Long Island to unionize following a successful vote in favor of organizing the local coffee shop Tuesday.
With a final count of 19-8 in favor, employees at the store — located at the Massapequa Village Square at 4301 Merrick Rd. — have voted to join the Workers United New York New Jersey Regional Board, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.
Baristas at a Great Neck location, which also had their union votes tallied Tuesday, voted against unionizing 6-5. Organizers at the 6 Great Neck Rd. Starbucks were the first on the Island to petition for a union vote earlier this year.
“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country," a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement following the vote counts at National Labor Relations Board's offices in Brooklyn. "We’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. We respect our partners' right to organize and are committed to following the NLRB process.”
ToniAnn Buscemi, 25, a barista and union organizer at the Massapequa location, said the victory there has given her and her co-workers a sense of optimism about their futures with the global coffee giant.
"We're all really excited," said Buscemi, a Massapequa resident who started working there two years ago.
“We just wanted to have a say in our workplace,” she said. “Beyond Starbucks, I hope that we inspire more workers everywhere to unionize.”
A spokeswoman for Workers United, Leanne Tory-Murphy said the union would be challenging the outcome of the unsuccessful vote in Great Neck. It has filed 22 unfair labor practice allegations against Starbucks management at that store.
“I’m disappointed for sure,” said Justin Wooster, 22, one of the organizers in Great Neck.
Wooster, a Great Neck resident and former barista at the shop, asserted that “union-busting was off the charts” at the store and likely contributed to the rejection. Starbucks spokeswoman Sarah Albanesi in March called such accusations "completely false."
Wooster left his job at the Starbucks last month but had remained active in the union drive.pushing for the store’s unionization.
“Even though we lost, we still started this kind of revolution within Long Island,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m thrilled that we were able to inspire people to fight for change, and we’re not done fighting."
Brooklyn store votes yes
The Great Neck and Massapequa employees, along with those at a location in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, began mail-in voting in early April. The Bensonhurst workers approved the union on a 17-0 vote announced Tuesday.
“Today is a truly historic day. After months of courageous organizing from the partners at the Massapequa Starbucks, Long Island officially has its first unionized Starbucks location,” John R. Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, said in a statement Tuesday. "The entire Long Island union movement is so proud to welcome these workers into our union family."
More than 250 Starbucks stores across the country have begun publicly pushing for union votes since workers at two Buffalo stores successfully unionized late last year, a statement from Workers United said. The efforts have succeeded at more than 50 stores, the union said.
Two other stores on the Island, one in Westbury and another in Farmingville, submitted signed union cards last month with the NLRB to secure a future union vote. Timelines for voting at those two stores have not been set.