Starbucks and its union are ready to negotiate. What's on the table?

Working Lunch: The give-and-take on scheduling and firings could have repercussions for all chains.

With about 240 units now unionized, Starbucks says it’s ready to sit down with organizers to hammer out a labor accord. What provisions is Starbucks Workers United likely to pursue?

“If I were other restaurants, particularly chain restaurants, I would watch very closely the terms negotiated on just-cause firing and on scheduling,” said Joe Kefauver, a principal of the policy advisory firm Align Public Strategies and co-host of the Working Lunch government-affairs podcast.

In this week’s edition, he and co-host/business partner Franklin Coley look at what’s likely to be covered in the negotiations, given that the union has said it plans to bring up both economic and non-economic issues.

They also note that the very form of the negotiations may have to be addressed first. Since the staffs of three Starbucks units in Buffalo, N.Y., disclosed their intentions back in August 2021 to unionize, organizers have maintained that each store was acting independently of fellow branches.

They used that argument to resist Starbucks’ efforts to have a whole market vote on whether to unionize, a process that experts described as harder for pro-union employees to win. The National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that regulates union elections, agreed with Starbucks Workers United in every instance.

Now the union seems to be willing to negotiate labor terms across the various unionized stores.

In addition to reviewing what’s likely to be on the table in discussions between Starbucks and its employees, Kefauver and Coley look at the upcoming election’s relevance to restaurants and what legislation of importance to the business is popping at the state and local level.

Download the episode and every installment of Working Lunch wherever you get your podcasts.



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