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Employee Strikes Loom at Hundreds of Starbucks Locations Across the United States

The labor union representing numerous Starbucks employees in the United States has initiated a walkout on one of the coffee giant’s busiest annual days. This move is part of an ongoing dispute between Starbucks and Starbucks Workers United, a union that began organizing within the company in 2021. The clash revolves around issues such as wages, scheduling, and various other concerns.

Anticipated to impact around 200 stores, the work stoppage is scheduled for November 16, coinciding with Starbucks’ ‘Red Cup’ day, during which the company distributes reusable, holiday-themed cups. The protest, the second of its kind on this particular day, is expected to range from a few hours’ disruption in some locations to the entire closure of branches for most of the day in others.

Union leader Michelle Eisen, a Starbucks barista, contends that the company has the financial capacity to “do better by its workers.” The union asserts that the objective of the protest is to draw attention to Starbucks’ alleged refusal to engage in fair contract negotiations with unionized stores. Members are also expressing dissatisfaction with working conditions, particularly insufficient staffing levels on promotional days.

Eisen foresees an increased participation of customers and community activists in this year’s action, signaling potential reputational risks for the coffee brand. She emphasized, “That’s what’s going to set this apart. That’s what should scare the company. Their reputation is everything.”

Starbucks, operating approximately 10,000 stores across the US, downplayed expectations of major disruptions. The company stated that it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in higher wages, training, and new equipment. Starbucks blamed the union for delays in negotiations, citing successful talks at various stores in Canada, and expressed readiness for in-person negotiations with certified unions representing its partners.

Since 2021, workers at around 350 of Starbucks’ 10,000 US locations have voted to join the union, a campaign fiercely opposed by the company. Union members accuse Starbucks of obstructing negotiations, including firing workers and closing stores to thwart the movement. US administrative law judges have found the company in violation of labor laws, a claim Starbucks consistently appeals and denies. Former CEO Howard Schultz was compelled to testify before Congress last year regarding the union’s allegations.

The Starbucks union campaign is closely monitored and is credited with inspiring workers at other companies. Eisen, who played a role in the first unionized Starbucks store, expressed mixed emotions, noting the impact on the broader labor movement in the US, citing significant wage increases at other companies like UPS. Despite these victories, she emphasized the ongoing challenges faced in their struggle.

by Paul Britton

Full-time CBG author covering everything from business to wellbeing news, in Cyprus. and abroad.
Tags: Starbucks

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