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With The Reinstatement Of Two Fired Workers & The Lifting Of A Community-Wide Boycott, Organized Labor Announces That ‘Buffalo’s Got A Union SPoT’

Buffalo’s Newest Unionized Coffee Shop Gets Labor’s ‘Stamp Of Approval’ As Chain Management Agrees ‘Not To Interfere’ With Its Employees Right To Organize At Its Remaining & Local Non-Union Locations

Published Wednesday, November 13, 2019
by WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
With The Reinstatement Of Two Fired Workers & The Lifting Of A Community-Wide Boycott, Organized Labor Announces That ‘Buffalo’s Got A Union SPoT’

(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) - With the reinstatement of two Workers who were fired during a recent and successful Union Organizing Campaign, along with receiving full back pay, a community-wide boycott of Buffalo’s coffee chain has come to an end with Organized Labor coming together to publicly announce that “Buffalo’s Got A Union SPoT.”

Buffalo’s newest Unionized Restaurant has received Labor’s Stamp of Approval with Coffee Chain’s Management agreeing not to interfere with its Employees’ right to organize at its remaining and local Non-Union locations.

“The boycott ‘is over’ and SPoT is a ‘Unionized Coffee Shop,” Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Richard Lipsitz told Union Leaders and Delegates during Tuesday’s (November 13th) monthly meeting of the Buffalo AFL-CIO Central Labor Council.  “We (Organized Labor across Western New York) ‘would prefer’ that our Members ‘use’ Union-represented hotels, restaurants - ‘and now,’ coffee shops.  We announce the end of the boycott ‘and encourage’ our affiliated Unions and their Members to (patronize SPoT Coffee locations in Buffalo and its suburbs).”

It was two days before the Fourth of July that Workers employed by the SPoT Coffee Chain in Buffalo first went public with their desire to form a Union in their workplace.  More than a month and half later - on Tuesday (August 20th), those Workers hugged in celebration after their overwhelming vote to Go Union was announced.

By a final tally of 43-to-6, the SPoT (Supporting People Organizing Together) Coffee Workers - representing a total of 90 employed at four local locations, on Hertel, Delaware and Elmwood Avenues and on Main Street in Suburban Williamsville, formed the first Union at a coffee shop in Buffalo in more than 25 years.  A majority of SPoT Coffee Workers signed cards to force the Union Election that was overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

A formal news conference was scheduled to be held on Thursday (November 14th) to officially announce the end of the boycott and a neutrality agreement with SPoT that will allow further Union Organizing of their Buffalo-area locations, Union Officials said.

The fight to Unionize SPoT Coffee Workers in Buffalo was the exact opposite of what occurred with SPoT Coffee Workers in the City of Rochester, who were allowed by management to Unionize.  A number of public demonstrations and rallies were held outside SPoT Coffee’s area locations and a ton of media coverage spotlighted their struggle.  In Rochester, there was only one No vote cast in the Rochester SPoT Coffee Unionization Drive that has now created 16 new Union Workers employed at SPoT Coffee’s East Avenue location, Union Officials said.

Scheduled to speak during Thursday’s news conference were: WNYALF President Lipsitz; SPoT Coffee Employee Kay Kennedy, a Member of the Buffalo SPoT Union Organizing Committee; SPoT Coffee Worker Philip Kneitinger, also a Member of the Buffalo SPoT Union Organizing Committee; SPoT Executive Chairman John Lorenzo, Executive Chairman; and Gary Bonadonna Jr., Manager of Workers United’s Rochester Regional Joint Board.

“Every Worker ‘has the right’ to organize - ‘it’s a fundamental human right,’” Rob Vitello, Workers United Buffalo District Director, told WNYLaborToday.com prior to the news conference. 

Workers United worked with the SPoT Employees throughout their successful Union Campaign over the Summer. 

“We ‘are building’ a Workers’ movement in the City of Buffalo and this is the first ‘Union spot.’  ‘It just shows everyone what can happen when everyone comes together in unity,’” said Vitello, who confirmed the first Workers were back at work and had received full back pay, which the Union requested SPoT Management make good on.

WNYALF President Lipsitz told those in attendance at the Buffalo AFL-CIO Council Meeting that he was hopeful the successful Union Organizing Campaign at SPoT Coffee would lead to more organizing victories with other food, restaurant and hotel offerings throughout Downtown Buffalo in the months and years to come.

“We ‘want’ (those Workers) Unionized with Union Contracts and we are ‘happy that this is the beginning of something - a campaign that will (eventually) bring others under a Union Contract,’” he said.

The WNYALF plans to make every one of its Union Affiliates of what has occurred at SPoT Coffee in Buffalo and encourage all their Members to patronize the coffee chain’s stores, Lipsitz said. 

“This is ‘our’ Union alternative,” he added.  “It is ‘our ‘coffee café of choice.’”

For More On This Labor News Story, Read WNYLaborToday.com’s August 21 Report, Headlined: SPoT Coffee Workers In Buffalo Overwhelmingly Vote To ‘Go Union’ - Workers United Reps Plan On Contacting Management “Today Or Thursday” To Start Bargaining Process For A First Union Contract At www.wnylabortoday.com/news/2019/08/21/buffalo-and-western-new-york-labor-news/spot-coffee-workers-in-buffalo-overwhelmingly-vote-to-go-union-workers-united-reps-plan-on-contacting-management-today-or-thursday-to-start-bargaining-process-for-a-first-union-contract/

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