Starbucks adopts a surprising offensive strategy to discourage unions

Interim Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has resumed his role at a critical point in the company’s history, with persistent Covid-19 concerns, supply chain disruptions, growing social and political upheaval and a growing push toward unions across its stores — something the coffee chain continues to do. fight. On May 3, Schultz announced that Starbucks will invest nearly $1 billion in this fiscal year alone to support wage increases, state-of-the-art training, store innovation and more — but not for union employees.

The investment, which followed Schultz’s suspension of the company’s buyback program, would ensure that all American employees would receive at least $15 an hour, beginning August 1, and that all employees hired on or before May 2 would receive either $3 or $15 an hour, whichever Top. In addition, employees with two to five years of experience will get at least a 5% increase or a 5% increase over the market rate, whichever is higher, and employees with more than five years experience will get a 7% or 10% increase. Stumbled above the market price.

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Only employees, whom Starbucks refers to as “partners” in the company’s non-union stores, will be eligible for the new perks. “Therefore, partners will receive these salaries, benefits, and store improvement investments in all US corporate-operated stores where Starbucks is entitled to unilaterally make these changes,” the company said in a statement. “However, in stores where there is union representation for workers, federal law requires good-faith bargaining on wages, benefits, and working conditions that prevents Starbucks from making or announcing unilateral changes.”

The Starbucks union, the Starbucks workers union, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over Schultz’s comments. CNBC has seen a letter from a Starbucks Workers United attorney to the NLRB, which claims Schultz’s comments “threatening to withhold” benefits had “immediate and profound chilling effect on nationwide campaigning,” including a “last-minute” withdrawal of support costing a win. Union in Virginia Store.

This is not a matter of Howard’s choice or opinion; Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Burgess said in a statement to CNBC that this is the law. “No new benefit can be granted unilaterally to stores that voted to join a union during collective bargaining. Howard remains focused on moving quickly to build the future of Starbucks with the partners together, side by side. ”

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More than 200 stores across the country petitioned the NLRB to vote to form unions with United Starbucks workers; More than 40 voted in favor of the organization.

Starbucks Workers United has filed more than 80 lawsuits against the coffee chain for allegedly violating federal labor law, and Starbucks retaliated with its first charges against the union last month, accusing it of intimidating partners and violating federal labor law.

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