By DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Business Writer

A growing effort to unionize Starbucks stores is facing its first major test.

The National Labor Relations Board is scheduled to count ballots Thursday from union elections held at three separate Starbucks stores in the Buffalo, New York, area.

Around 111 Starbucks workers from the three stores were eligible to vote.

Starbucks has never had unionized U.S. stores in its 50-year history, and has fought off previous unionization attempts.

The company says its stores function best when it works directly with employees.

But union backers say they want more input in store operations and pay.

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