Starbucks Workers United is seeking to consolidate talks with Starbucks so that the more than 300 unionized stores can negotiate their first contract, according to HuffPost. However, Starbucks has maintained that since each location unionized one by one, each store should negotiate its own contract.
The first organizing efforts at Starbucks started in late 2021, and many workers have yet to negotiate contracts even at stores that unionized more than a year ago. Lynne Fox, President of Starbucks Workers United, believes a single, united bargaining effort could expedite negotiations.
“The fastest way to do it is in a national framework at one table and bargain these universal issues concurrently,” said Fox in an interview with HuffPost. On May 23, she sent a letter to Starbucks’ General Counsel Zabrina Jenkins, urging the company to begin universal negotiations.
Fox is seeking a broad contract that would set a minimum wage, “fair scheduling” procedures, guaranteed minimum hours and an agreement for union elections moving forward, as well as other provisions. From there, smaller groups or individual stores could seek to negotiate more specific agreements.
Starbucks has noted that it is making progress with some stores, including a location in Pennsylvania that joined the Teamsters union in 2022.
“This is a deliberate attempt to distract from Workers United’s failure or inability to bargain for nearly 300 single stores, as they successfully litigated and enforced on Starbucks,” said Andrew Trull, a Starbucks spokesperson in an email to HuffPost.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has called the number of individual bargaining contracts “significant complications” and blamed the problem on the fact that Starbucks Workers United has organized on a store-by-store rather than regional basis.
Fox has claimed that Starbucks has neither agreed nor offered counter-proposals for any of the 15 core proposals submitted by Starbucks Workers United. Starbucks says it has proposed “more than 423 single-store bargaining sessions,” but the union set preconditions that the company would not agree to, such as remote bargaining over video conferencing software.
“We remain engaged and ready to bargain in person,” said Trull.
For now, it looks like the union will continue growing even without a contract. As of May 2023 the organization has won 315 elections, according to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) data.
Additionally, the battle will continue in the legal arena. NLRB prosecutors have filed 94 complaints against Starbucks. These include accusations that Starbucks illegally fired union supporters, including one ruling that led to an injunction at an Ann Arbor, Mich. store that prevents workers from being fired because they engaged in collective action.