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Starbucks Showdown in Boston Points to Recent Phase of Union Campaign


“Massing forces in a specific geographic region and attempting to spread the conflagration there has the potential to work,” said Peter Olney, a former organizing director of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. “I’d deal with those metro areas.”

One architect of the union’s strategy in Boston is a recent law school graduate named Kylah Clay, who works as a barista at a unionized store.

On a blistering afternoon in August, Ms. Clay, wearing a tank top and green army pants, sat outside the Boston University store holding a stack of checks that staff got here to gather, courtesy of the union’s Starbucks strike fund.

In between, she recalled how she and a colleague had recently ambushed their district manager at one other store after he had turn out to be slow to answer their calls and text messages. “We went as much as the district manager and began making our demands,” Ms. Clay said.

As Ms. Clay tells it, she knew almost nothing about unions before last yr, when company officials began pouring into Buffalo after the campaign had gone public. Amongst them was Howard Schultz, who was between tours as chief executive. “When Buffalo filed, Howard must have kept his mouth shut,” she said. “I’d have never gotten involved.”

Employees at her store, where she had first worked during law school, and one other Boston-area store filed for union elections in December and won their votes in April. Since then, greater than 15 stores in Recent England have also unionized, most of them along with her help. Nationwide, the union has won about 250 out of just over 300 votes.

But adding to the full has turn out to be tougher. “Stores which might be easy to prepare, that had people in them who were natural leaders, who were enthusiastic about it — those have filed already,” said Brick Zurek, a former Starbucks worker in Chicago who helped organize staff there.

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