Philadelphia Allegedly Boycotted Its Starbucks Mobile Orders Because It's A 'Union Town'

Since the 1800s, workers' unions have fought for the rights of employees, from negotiating fair working hours to fair payment for services. Historically, however, big corporations have fought against unionization, Starbucks included. Per Forbes, Starbucks started its attempt to unionize stores in Buffalo, NY, last year. Despite workers being referred to as 'partners,' there have been claims of widespread mistreatment, unfair wages, and lack of training.

In a possible attempt to delay the unionization, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schulz, announced new wages and benefits — but only for some stores. He stated that, by law, he was unable to offer those unions in the midst of negotiations the same benefits as non-unionized outlets. He said, "Compare any union contract in our sector to the constantly expanding list of wages and benefits we have provided our people for decades, and the union contract will not even come close to what Starbucks offers." Schulz described the union efforts as a "new outside force trying desperately to disrupt our company." Starbucks has been a forerunner in providing benefits such as "health care, retirement, stock options and free college tuition to full-time and part-time employees," (per NPR).

However, Workers United filed "unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board," stating that by law, "employers simply cannot implement new benefits during contract negotiations unilaterally." A year later, unrest still continues amongst Starbucks employees with over 100 unionized stores striking this past Thursday during Red Cup Day (per The Guardian).

Twitter offers conflicting opinions on the Philly strike

One Twitter user posted the above photo, allegedly from a Philadelphia-based Starbucks that was part of the strike. The post stated, "These mobile orders were not picked up = Philadelphians WHO DID NOT CROSS THE PICKET LINE. Philly is a UNION town." 

According to the Philadelphia news team at BillyPenn, Philly is indeed considered a union town with over 150,000 citizens represented by unions that collectively "wield a power in Philadelphia seen in few other cities in America." However, while the community might be in support of the Starbucks workers' efforts, one person replied to the tweet that "Starbucks doesn't give a s*** if they're picked up or not. It's not like they're the ones eating the cost." Several people were quick to point out that those customers who had ordered were given instructions to get a refund, therefore hurting the daily takings of the stores. However, another responder said, "I was nearby when this was happening. They were protesting angrily in circles around the entrance to [Starbucks]. No way anyone would think to cross not [because] of support but [because] of fear." 

Several Twitter posters suggested that if customers were aware of, and in support of the strike, the best way they could have supported the efforts would have been to boycott ordering. One Twitter user suggested that because resources were used, Starbucks was the ultimate loser.