Elmwood Taco & Subs workers announce unionization effort

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Workers at a popular Elmwood Avenue restaurant are looking to unionize.

On Monday morning, employees of Elmwood Taco & Subs (ETS) came together to launch a campaign calling on the restaurant’s management to respect their rights to organize.

The workers say they’re organizing with Workers United Upstate New York. Workers United is the same group that facilitated the unionization of Starbucks, Lexington Co-op and Remedy House workers here in Buffalo.

Starbucks, in particular, made waves across the country as the coffee chain’s Elmwood store was the first in the nation to unionize, sparking a country-wide effort where hundreds followed. It also happens to be right next door to ETS.

Elmwood Taco & Subs workers and community supporters held a conference Monday morning to discuss their goals in unionization. During this time, they spoke of how they were inspired by Starbucks and other Workers United-represented workers in the community.

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Mary Grant, who has worked at ETS for almost five years, says she’s dealt with a lot of changes and that unionizing would be greatly beneficial.

According to the workers who spoke Monday morning, Elmwood Taco & Subs has roughly two dozen employees. Abel Lopez, another worker there, says he’s close with his colleagues and wants to be treated with respect by management.

Zach, a shift supervisor who’s been there since January 2021, says “Our criticisms have not been heard.” He went on to say the environment there is “very almost passive-aggressive at times,” claiming “hostility” between upper management and everyone else.

According to the workers, they’ve seen some people unjustly fired and were promised raises earlier in the year. Additionally, they’re looking for more hours on their schedules, saying some people are having trouble getting as much work as they need.

In all, the workers, along with Casey Moore from Starbucks Workers United, say unionization organization efforts have been going on for roughly one month. They say an election to vote on unionizing will be held soon.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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