Starbucks strands union workers at the bargaining table

Buffalo, New York - Starbucks has come under fire this week for failing to bargain with unionized stores despite announcing its intention to do so.

Workers ready to negotiate in Lakewood, California, are left stranded at the bargaining table.
Workers ready to negotiate in Lakewood, California, are left stranded at the bargaining table.  © Screenshot/Twitter/UnionTyler

On Monday, Starbucks reps walked out on workers during bargaining meetings in Buffalo, New York; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; Chicago, Illinois; and Lakewood, California.

Starbucks reportedly took issue with the fact that bargaining sessions were being held in virtual and hybrid formats rather than entirely in person, despite having engaged in previous online meetings.

During the sessions, members of a local bargaining committee present their store's demands and seek to strike a deal with Starbucks reps that meets their needs. Members of the union's National Bargaining Committee (NBC) may also attend via Zoom to provide tips and guidance. There is nothing illegal about having local or national committee members join virtually.

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"It’s as if Starbucks walked out of negotiations because they didn’t like the color of our hair," Al Kerr, a Buffalo Starbucks worker at the company's first unionized US store, said in a Starbucks Workers United press release. "It’s completely ridiculous – not to mention childish – and clearly just another way for the company to stall."

"I joined the Power and Baseline bargaining session [in Mesa, Arizona] virtually and we had no problems," added Michelle Eisen, another Buffalo-based Starbucks organizer and leader of the NBC. "Why it’s suddenly an issue for Starbucks and their lawyers just doesn’t make any sense."

Starbucks Workers United announced its plans to file another unfair labor practice charge against the company for its failure to bargain in good faith. The National Labor Relations Board has already accused the coffee giant of over 800 violations of federal labor law.

Cover photo: Screenshot/Twitter/UnionTyler

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