Starbucks and the union organizing it have agreed to a truce

The coffee brand and Workers United, the parent of Starbucks Workers United, have agreed to hammer out a framework for collective bargaining.
Starbucks and its growing union ranks agree to a truce. | Photo courtesy: Starbucks

Starbucks and the union representing the staffs of about 386 green-awninged stores on Tuesday agreed to end their impasse on hammering out new labor agreements by negotiating a “foundational framework” for the collective bargaining that should follow.

The pact also calls for ending outstanding litigation between the warring parties and establishing a “fair process” for additional Starbucks units to organize.

As part of the agreement, Starbucks agreed to provide members of the union, Workers United, with the benefits non-union baristas were given in May 2022. Those perks include a share of tips that are charged on credit cards and a bump in pay.

Workers United called the extension of those benefits “a sign of good faith” on Starbucks’ part, a marked change in tune from a week ago, when union representatives filed 22 complaints against the coffee chain with federal regulators. The actions alleged that Starbucks was engaging in unfair labor practices.

“While there is plenty of work ahead, coming together to develop this framework is a significant step forward and a clear demonstration of a shared commitment to working collaboratively and with mutual respect,” read a statement issued simultaneously by Starbucks and the union.

The agreement follows one of the most intense waves of criticism Workers United has directed at Starbucks since the union began organizing units of the chain in August of 2021. Over the course of roughly a week, the union announced that the staffs of 21 Starbucks units had jumpstarted drives to join the union, the most ever in a single day; that the 22 complaints had been filed with the National Labor Relations Board; and that students at 25 colleges and universities were pressuring their schools to either shut down on-campus Starbucks units or public express their support for the drive to unionize the chain.

Starbucks has expressed considerable frustration that collective bargaining with Workers United and its Starbucks-focused subsidiary, Starbucks Workers United, had yet to begin.

Weeks ago, it sent a letter to a high-ranking official of Service Employees International Union, the parent of Workers United, that suggested the parties drop their hostilities and aim to negotiate new employment contracts for the staffs of unionized stores.

To date, about 9,500 baristas are represented by Starbucks Workers United.

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