By Hamilton Nolan, In These Times

The fast food industry, one of the most ubiquitous low-wage employers in America, has been notoriously immune to unions. For nearly a decade, the Fight For $15 campaign has been successfully working to raise the industry’s wages — but despite its slogan of “$15 and a union,” has not produced any actual unions. Now, an unrelated group of Starbucks employees in Buffalo, New York, are poised to move forward with something that has rarely been seen before: Union elections at individual fast food stores.

Starbucks is America’s second largest fast food chain, with more than 15,000 stores nationwide. Their only unionized stores are a small number run by subcontractors in places such as airports. Last week, an organizing committee of nearly 50 Buffalo-area Starbucks workers, under the banner of ​“Starbucks Workers United” (who are organizing with the union Workers United), released a letter announcing their intention to unionize, and calling on the company to embrace ​“Fair Election Principles” that forswear common union-busting techniques.

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