More than 400 Starbucks workers at 21 stores seek to join union

More than 400 workers at 21 Stabucks locations filed petitions Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to join the Starbucks Workers United union.

This was the largest single-day filing of the campaign to unionize Starbucks workers since it launched in 2021, according to a statement by the union.

In a letter to Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan, the workers said a lack of resources, poor working conditions, inconsistent scheduling and ever-increasing demands motivated them to join the union.

“Across the country management is cutting hours, writing inconsistent and unreliable schedules, and placing more and more work on fewer and fewer partners,” Starbucks lingo for employees, the workers wrote.

“Starbucks’ profit driven behavior makes doing our jobs impossible. We cannot keep up with constant promotions, dilapidated equipment, and unclean stores. It’s clear to us now more than ever that this one-sided relationship is no longer working.”

The workers are demanding better wages, clear communication, input into decisions that impact their day-to-day work and “manageable expectations.”

Andrew Trull, a Starbucks spokesperson, told The Hill, “While we believe our direct relationship as partners is core to our culture and our continued improvements to the partner experience, we respect the rights of partners to organize and reaffirm our aim to negotiate first contracts for represented stores this year.”

The company also invested more than 20 percent of its profits into wages, training and equipment in 2023, Trull said, and has raised total hourly compensation for U.S. workers by nearly 50 percent since 2020.

“We encourage all partners at stores petitioning for representation to get the facts, make an informed choice and ensure their voice heard by voting in neutral, secret-ballot elections conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. Our aim will be to ensure the process is fair and our partners’ voices are heard,” he added.

Nearly 400 Starbucks stores in 42 states and the District of Columbia have successfully unionized since December 2021, according to the union.

Since the campaign began, Starbucks has been accused of illegally harassing, intimidating and firing employees who have helped organize union efforts.

NLRB labor law judges have found Starbucks guilty of illegal union-busting activity in 48 of the 49 cases they’ve ruled on, Bloomberg Law reported last week.

Starbucks has recently joined SpaceX, Trader Joe’s and Amazon — companies that have also been hit with high-profile labor law violation allegations — in arguing the structure of the NLRB and the removal restrictions on administrative law judges are unconstitutional.

The alleged union-busting campaign has drawn ire in Washington. Last March, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee questioned former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz about alleged labor law violations. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who chairs the committee, urged workers to continue their unionization efforts.

A recent third-party assessment found Starbucks has made “consistent progress since organizing began,” no evidence that the company has “anti-union playbook,” and that the company has engaged in “meaningful negotiations” with employees.

But following the release of the report in December 2023, Starbucks Board Chair Mellody Hobson said, “While Starbucks has had no intention to deviate from the principles of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, there are things the Company can, and should, do to improve its stated commitments and its adherence to these important principles.”

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