August 8, 2022

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Starbucks union asks coffee giant to extend pay hikes, benefits to unionized stores

2 min read

With pay increases set to kick in at Starbucks cafes around the U.S. on Monday, labor organizers are asking the coffee giant to extend the benefits to unionized stores as well without going through the bargaining process.

The request comes after Starbucks announced in May that it would hike wages for workers and add other benefits such as credit card tipping by late this year. But the Seattle-based coffee chain said it wouldn’t offer the enhanced benefits to workers at unionized stores because it needs to go through bargaining to make such changes.

In a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz obtained by CNBC, Workers United said the company can legally offer benefits to employees at unionized stores without bargaining, as long as the union agrees. The letter notes other companywide benefits announced in recent months, including faster sick time accrual and medical travel reimbursement for employees seeking abortions or gender-reaffirming care.

“Workers United refuses to stand by while Starbucks cynically promises new benefits only to non-unionized workers and withholds them from our members,” states the letter from Lynne Fox, president of Workers United, to Schultz last month.

The letter notes the union is not waiving any other bargaining obligation that Starbucks has under federal law.

About 200 Starbucks stores have unionized so far, while 40 have voted not to unionize, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Starbucks has roughly 9,000 locations in the U.S.

When contacted about the union’s request, Starbucks pointed to a factsheet on its website that states, “The law is clear: once a store unionizes, no changes to benefits are allowed without good faith collective bargaining.”

The company’s site says workers have access to Starbucks benefits that were in place when the union petition was filed, but that any subsequent changes to wages, benefits and working conditions have to be bargained.

Labor lawyers say the case could wind up before an administrative law…

2022-08-01 12:01:13

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