Starbucks Reddit Is Fuming About This Anti-Union Corporate Letter

Over the past year, Starbucks employees have been putting more and more pressure on the brand's corporate structure as individual locations look to start the process of collectivization. According to Al Jazeera, the coffee chain has pushed back against these efforts and has stated, for example, that three shops in Buffalo, New York that are trying to join Worker's United shouldn't be entitled to vote to join the union on a "café-by-café basis" (as the article notes, there are 20 Starbucks in the Buffalo area). 

The corporate entity states that Starbucks employees as a whole should make a collective decision as opposed to regional cells, though some labor experts claim Starbucks' efforts to prevent the Buffalo locations to independently vote resembles an anti-union tactic that some businesses may use to disrupt collectivization efforts (per Vice).

Buffalo seems to be a key battleground for the Starbucks' unionization efforts (recently the chain temporarily shut down two stores in the area in the midst of the showdown), and now a new letter — as seen on Starbucks website — that's been penned by a key executive within the company may have just intensified the struggle. The letter addresses the coffee chain's concerns of unionization from a corporate angle, and the executive who wrote the message described what they saw in Buffalo and went into detail about why they believe the Buffalo stores need to vote as a group, rather than on a site-by-site basis.

"I want to be clear that our actions in Buffalo are not about whether we are pro-union or anti-union," the letter, written by Starbucks EVP, President of North America Rossann Williams, stated. "It's quite simply that we are pro-Starbucks partners ... Unfortunately, what I've seen and heard in the market shows we have partners who don't feel the partnership we pride ourselves on having, which is heartbreaking to me." She then adds, "And truth be told, the operational challenges I described ... can only be solved by us, from within Starbucks. ... So, we are asking partners to vote 'no' to a union – not because we're opposed to unions but because we believe we will best enhance our partnership and advance the operational changes together in a direct relationship."

A new corporate letter has elicited a strong reaction from Starbucks employees

After the letter was published October 18, reactions were swift, with many Starbucks employees taken aback by the message from brand executive Rossann Williams. One person posted the letter on Reddit and fellow workers had some strong feelings regarding the sentiments contained inside. One person said, "They're shaking in their boots about the big bad scary unions lol. Wishing the best of luck to any Buffalo baristas unionizing, if you can do it, we can. All it takes is one domino for the whole thing to fall into place."

Another person responded to the letter with, "She really said a whole lot of nothing. This reads word for word [like] corporate vomit." Another user jumped in and replied with, "She really does not understand that the real 'partners' are the baristas and shift managers. Every single person above us benefits from the work we put in every single day, seven days a week. This corporation is too big for her to actually care about every single 'partner' ... I hate how she really put 'expanding referral bonuses' like that's really what we need. It's basically a bribe." Though the most scathing comment of all might be this one: "This reads like a super villain wrote it."

It looks like the fate of Starbucks' Buffalo union vote might signal the outcome for the entire company's worker collectivization efforts, and the side that wins this battle may hold a great advantage in the coming days. Make sure to keep following this developing situation for more news regarding the coffee chain worker's union efforts.