We Finally Know What The Starbucks Union Is Demanding

For six months, Starbucks' baristas have been formulating a proposal to convince the company to meet the union's demands. On Wednesday, March 22, these demands were presented to lawyers in a Seattle, Washington hotel. According to The Washington Post, the union is asking that full-time employees work at least 37 hours weekly, for the ability to take credit card tips store-wide, a starting pay of $20 an hour, and a heath care plan for both full-time and part-time employees that's 100% funded by the company. These conditions vary by store, with one market asking for a starting pay of $25.40 an hour.

The last time the union attempted to bargain, it didn't amount to anything. Back in October 2022, workers claimed that Starbucks attorneys didn't sit in on the meetings long enough for accomplishments to be made (per The Guardian). One barista, Tyler Keeling, claimed the lawyers refused to discuss business matters with employees over Zoom. "At every single one of those stores where that happened, we were lucky if we hit the 10-minute mark before they were gone," said Keeling. He claimed the company only cared about its reputation. But why would this be the case? Starbucks has reportedly made several attempts to stop other stores from unionizing.

Starbucks believes the brand already offers reasonable benefits

In 2021, a Buffalo, New York store became the first Starbucks to form a union. Since then, nearly 300 additional locations have followed suit. What ensued was the return of Howard Schultz, the original mastermind behind the brand. Upon coming back, he hoped he could smooth things over and stop more Starbucks locations from trying to unionize. At the time, barista Michelle Eisen, who hailed from the first unionized location, felt their efforts were beginning to work. "We have pressured the company to implement raises, seniority pay, credit card tipping, and more," she said (per CNBC). There's a chance every store wasn't seeing success, though Starbucks was accused of closing union stores and cutting back on pay raises, all of which the company has denied as the reasons.

If anything is clear, it's that Starbucks is undeniably opposed to the union. In a since deleted statement, the company explained why it didn't believe unions were beneficial. "We do not believe unions are necessary at Starbucks because we know that the real issues are solved through our direct partnership with one another," it read. Still, the coffee giant claims that it stands behind workers' rights. "We respect our partners' right to organize, but believe that they would not find it necessary given our pro-partner environment," a statement read. In response to union demands, Starbucks noted that is offers health insurance and fair wages to employees.