The Major Healthcare Change Starbucks Just Made For Its Employees

Starbucks has repeatedly denied allegations of union-busting, but the coffee giant continues to oppose nationwide unionization efforts among its workers by filing complaints and disciplining pro-union employees (over a dozen of whom have been fired since February, per Vice). A group of Starbucks workers told The Washington Post that unionization brings the promise of financial security, while others told Forbes that unions would allow them to have "a voice at the table," adding that they "just [don't] feel appreciated or valued."

Despite all the tension between Starbucks and its baristas, some people give the chain points for its healthcare plan. The brand claims on its website that it was "among the first companies to offer comprehensive health benefits and equity to those who work just 20 hours or more a week." Following the viral leak of a Supreme Court draft revealing a proposal to overturn Roe v. Wade, Starbucks sent a letter to its workers announcing a major update to its U.S. healthcare benefit — one that champions both abortion rights and gender affirmation.

Starbucks will pick up the travel bill for employees seeking abortions and gender-affirming surgeries

Starbucks workers received a letter from Partner Resources rep Sara Kelly on Monday stating that their employer will cover the cost of travel expenses should they (or any of their dependents) seek an abortion or gender-affirming procedure in a facility 100 miles or more from their home. "Like many of you, I'm deeply concerned by the draft Supreme Court opinion related to the constitutional right to abortion that was first established by Roe v. Wade," writes Kelly, ensuring employees that Starbucks will keep "quality healthcare" a priority, "regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding." Kelly writes that the company is still hammering out the nuts and bolts of the expansion, and ends the letter by promising "more updates soon."

While Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is reviewing a series of additional healthcare perks that may be used to reward non-union employees, reports Today, Monday's letter assures workers that the aforementioned expansion will apply to all employees, regardless of their union stance.