retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Apparently that old Howard Schultz magic sin't what it used to be.

As Starbucks has been arguing against the efforts by employees at three of its Buffalo, New York-area locations to unionize, it has sent in corporate officials to make the case - and even sent in Howard Schultz, the company's former CEO, to say that the company was big enough to admit mistakes and that employees did not need a union to serve their interests.

But now, the New York Times writes, "One day before ballots were scheduled to go out to workers at three Buffalo-area Starbucks in a vote on unionization, workers at three other stores in the area filed petitions with federal regulators on Tuesday requesting elections as well."

The sniping between the two sides continues, as pro-labor advocates say that Starbucks has been trying to intimidate workers, and Starbucks "filed a motion to stay the mailing of ballots while it appeals a ruling by a regional official of the National Labor Relations Board setting up separate votes at the three locations where workers initially filed for elections. The company wants all of the roughly 20 Buffalo-area stores to vote in a single election, an approach that typically favors employers."

KC's View:

I'm not betting on Starbucks winning this one … and if it loses, it'll be a shock to the system.  I also wouldn't bet against such a result bringing Schultz back into some sort of active role in the company, since he'll likely see this development as a result of his departure.