In the latest development at Starbucks, workers at more than 100 unionized Starbucks locations walked off the job Wednesday to protest unfair labor practices by the coffee giant. The move came as the company prepared for its annual shareholder meeting today.
In a union organizing campaign with few parallels in recent decades, Starbucks baristas have been standing up and forming unions in stores around the United States at a rapid clip. Starting with a Buffalo Starbucks in late 2021, nearly 300 Starbucks stores have voted to organize with Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Workers at dozens more have filed for union elections. Still, this represents only a fraction of the company’s 9,000+ American locations.
Starbucks responded by bringing back retired CEO Howard Schultz to fight the union drive using fair means or foul. Starbucks has repeatedly fired or disciplined union activists; closed stores that voted the union in; and awarded raises to workers at stores that HAVEN’T organized while denying the same raises to workers at union stores. According to the union’s count, the National Labor Relations Board has issued more than 70 complaints against Starbucks, encompassing over 1,200 alleged violations of labor law. Workers have asked customers to refrain from purchasing Starbucks Gift Cards until the company decides to treat its workers fairly.
Will Spring 2023 mark a turning point at the company? Schultz has vacated the corner office; new CEO Laxman Narasimhan will have to decide which direction to lead the company. Shareholders, meanwhile, are voting on a proposal for a third-party workers’ rights audit.
It’s past time for Starbucks to deal fairly with its employees – ending retaliation against union activists and bargaining in good faith with those who have formed unions. Please avoid Starbucks gift cards and pray for a change of heart on the part of Starbucks management!