Starbucks Is Under Fire For Not Negotiating With Union Workers

The past year has been a bumpy road for Starbucks corporate and its "partners" — the term it calls its employees. Starbucks' CEO Howard Schulz has said that he doesn't see the need for a union, citing that employees already have good pay and benefits compared to many other companies (via NPR). While he has said that he's not anti-union (via the Independent), he has stated that he sees them as anti-business and CNBC reports that he has a "long history of opposing unions." 

Protests have broken out in multiple locations across the country with workers fighting for their rights to join a union in order to have official representation and negotiate their rights, benefits, and wages. However, Schulz seemingly retaliated by offering all increased benefits to non-unionized employees, telling shareholders, "We do not have the same freedom to make these improvements at locations that have a union or where union organizing is underway," per NPR. He indicated that he believed it was against the law to negotiate with those outlets that were in the midst of joining unions. Starbucks' refusal to negotiate terms with the unionized Seattle store has been branded illegal by the National Relations Labor Board and they have ruled that the coffee giant must start negotiations (via Bloomberg).

Starbucks Workers union celebrates anniversary of Buffalo victory

The Starbucks Workers United told Bloomberg, "Starbucks is continuing its aggressive anti-union campaign against workers by delaying, confusing, and flat-out refusing to bargain with them." The board documented Starbucks' admission of "refusal to bargain" and stated that they were contesting the union's victory because the government chose to "hold a mail-ballot rather than in-person election." In April, employees at the flagship Seattle store "voted unanimously to be represented by a union" (via the Independent). At that time, it was the 26th corporate-run store to win a union election and more than 200 stores had filed petitions for union elections, according to Starbucks Workers United, per the Independent.

CMRJB — Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board – said that there were 270 stores that had voted to unionize. While Starbucks Workers United is celebrating this latest victory ruling against Starbucks corporate, they can expect appeals on the decision. A company spokesperson told Bloomberg, "We are challenging certification of the Seattle Roastery election and plan to appeal today's decision." Seemingly undeterred by this announcement, the union's Facebook page announced anniversary rallies on December 9 to celebrate the first union victory in Buffalo, NY last year in 2021.