The Starbucks union, which represents more than 8,000 of the coffee chain’s employees, recently sent a letter to the company’s CEO asking that all employees receive the same pay and benefits regardless of whether they are in-store or at corporate locations. The two-year contract between the two sides expired on May 2 and negotiations have been ongoing since June 6.
After U.S. Starbucks locations receive an expected pay increase on Monday, U.S. labor organizers are requesting that Starbucks provide unionized stores with the benefits as well without going through the bargaining process.
Starbucks announced in May that it would increase wages for workers and offer other benefits, such as credit card tipping, by the end of the year. However, the Seattle-based coffee chain said it would not offer the enhanced benefits to workers at unionized stores since such changes would require bargaining.
Workers United argued that the company can legally offer benefits to its unionized stores without bargaining, as long as the union agrees. It mentions other benefits to the company that have been announced in recent months, including a quicker process for earning sick time and reimbursements for medical care that people can obtain for abortions or gender reassignment surgery.
Starbucks cynically promises new benefits only to non-unionized workers and refuses to provide them to our members,” explains Lynne Fox, president of Workers United, in a letter to Schultz last month.
The letter notes the union is not waiving any other bargaining obligation that Starbucks has under federal law.
There are currently about 200 Starbucks stores that have unionized, while 40 have not.
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 that workers have access to Starbucks benefits and 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 judge at the National Labor Relations Board.
These increases to our employees’ pay will include either a 5% hike or the act of raising our employees to 5% above market rate, whichever is higher, depending on the years of service they have with the company. Experienced employees with more than five years get a 7% or 10% increase in salary, whichever is higher. In addition to the new increases, a previously announced increase that kicks in this month gets wages to a nationwide floor of $15 an hour. That increase applies to stores that did not organize before it was announced.
Schultz stated that $1 billion will be spent on paying raises, worker training, and innovation of company stores. Prior to returning as CEO, he halted a company buyback program and focused instead on the welfare of his workers and stores.