Workers at a Starbucks (SBUX) location in Arlington, Virginia, went on protest on Wednesday because of the company’s anti-union policies. Workers and union members demonstrated in Seattle on the morning of Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting. Organizers claim that workers at over 100 Workers-United Baristas locations in 40 towns across the United States have walked off the job today.
Starbucks said that while some locations were able to stay open thanks to a dedicated staff, others required workers from other locations to cover extra hours so that customers could still get their caffeine fix.
On Thursday, Starbucks will hold its annual gathering, and protesters, led by Starbucks Workers United, plan to demand that new CEO Laxman Narasimhan be more receptive towards their unionization efforts.
Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ interim CEO, stepped down in September, and the company revealed that Narasimhan would take over as CEO on April 1. Schultz is preparing to appear before a Senate committee that has been looking into the coffee industry titan’s reaction to the widespread unionization movement.
At least 280 company-owned Starbucks stores in the U.S. have voted in favor of unionization since late 2021. Starbucks and the union have yet to reach a contract agreement at any of those sites. Among the demands made by workers are better pay, more consistent schedules, and safer stores.
The company opposes unionization because it claims that it already provides advantages that are unparalleled in the industry. It can be difficult for workers to accumulate enough hours to qualify for Starbucks benefits, according to labor advocates. Both parties have filed numerous grievances with the National Labor Relations Board regarding one another’s tactics.
Welcome the partners from Central & 3rd in Louisville, KY to the movement! Workers are challenging what Starbucks means when they say we’re “partners” and hoping for a new path forward with incoming CEO Laxman Narasimhan. pic.twitter.com/RK3lJfNMq1
— Starbucks Workers United (@SBWorkersUnited) March 23, 2023
The coffee-making chain was found to have engaged in “egregious and widespread misconduct” in Western New York, the region where the union campaign got its start, including illegal monitoring and firing of union supporters, according to a recent ruling by a court. A judge ruled last week that Starbucks must reinstate seven fired employees from a store in Buffalo, New York, for breaking labor rules. In addition, the judges ordered Schultz to read aloud or appear at a reading of employee rights and disseminate a recording of the reading to each Starbucks employee working in the United States.
CWEB has provided some information for this story.
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