By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A Starbucks cafe in Buffalo, New York, became the second unionized company-owned Starbucks Corp location in the United States after the federal labor board on Monday certified the results of last month’s election there.

Baristas at the company’s cafes in at least seven other cities have said since last fall that they also want to organize.

The union, called Workers United, had challenged several ballots for the Genesee Street location because it claimed the employees actually worked at a different store. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) agreed with Workers United that the ballots should be tossed out, making the final vote 15-9 in favor of the union.

The global coffee chain has 10 days to ask for a review of the NLRB’s decision.

“We’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us at Starbucks, and that conviction has not changed,” a spokesman said.

The company is evaluating its options and believes the employees whose ballots were set aside should be able to vote, he said.

Employees at the first Buffalo store to be certified, on Elmwood Avenue, walked out a week ago in protest at what they said were unsafe, understaffed conditions amid a new wave of COVID-19 infections that has sickened workers and slowed service at many restaurants.

They went back to work on Monday.

“We said we weren’t going to put customers or partners at risk until we had enough staff to operate safely. As of Monday, we believe we can now do that,” said Michelle Eisen, a union organizer and employee at the store.

The store also returned to the more frequent hand washing and cafe sanitization routines that employees had requested, said Jaz Brisack, a barista there.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Sandra Maler)