Starbucks set for talks with unionized US stores in big win for labor movement

Seattle, Washington - Starbucks is set to hold talks with labor representatives from stores that have voted to unionize in a key step towards reaching contracts, both sides said Tuesday.

Starbucks workers hold signs reading "No Contract, No Coffee" during a strike outside a coffee shop in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Starbucks workers hold signs reading "No Contract, No Coffee" during a strike outside a coffee shop in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  © ANGELA WEISS / AFP

Starbucks is set to hold talks with labor representatives from stores that have voted to unionize in a key step towards reaching contracts, both sides said Tuesday.

The labor group, Workers United, plans to send representatives of 425 stores that have voted to unionize in the United States to the meetings beginning Wednesday, the group said.

The goal is to establish a "foundational framework" on key issues such as wages, scheduling policy, and access to health care, the union said.

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The talks "mark a major step forward towards establishing strong contracts for more than 10,000 and growing Starbucks Workers United partners who have won their union, and with it, a seat at the table to build a stronger Starbucks," the union said.

While proposals affecting all employees at unionized stores can be raised, the contracts will be negotiated by each individual store and ratified accordingly, Starbucks said.

"This exciting progress on the foundational framework, announced in February, is intended to achieve both collective bargaining agreements for represented stores and resolve litigation, including that related to the Starbucks brand," Starbucks said.

"This is a positive step toward achieving our December goal of reaching ratified contracts for represented stores in 2024."

Starbucks accused of wide-ranging anti-worker activity

Starbucks Workers United were joined in solidarity by various unions as they held a rally outside a Staten Island store in New York City.
Starbucks Workers United were joined in solidarity by various unions as they held a rally outside a Staten Island store in New York City.  © MICHAEL M. SANTIAGO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Starbucks has nearly 18,000 stores in North America, about 60% which are company owned and the rest of which are licensed, according to a securities filing.

The push by Workers United garnered momentum after an initial successful campaign in Buffalo, New York, in late 2021.

Contract talks have been stalled as workers accused the company of failing to bargain in good faith, leading to criticism of the coffee giant by labor backers such as Vermont progressive Senator Bernie Sanders.

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The Seattle-headquartered company has faced numerous complaints of unlawful anti-worker activity from the National Labor Relations Board.

In February, Starbucks announced it was providing benefits to employees at unionized stores that had been added at non-union stores in the wake of the labor campaign, including credit card tipping.

The addition of these benefits was a "sign of good faith," Starbucks said in the February 27 announcement.

The company added in the February statement that Laxman Narasimhan, who became chief executive in April 2023, had a goal of "restitching the fabric of the green apron for all partners at Starbucks."

Cover photo: ANGELA WEISS / AFP

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