Starbucks, Workers United Union Agree on ‘Constructive Path Forward’ for Organizing

Starbucks and the Workers United union have agreed on a framework for collective bargaining discussions for the nearly 400 stores represented by the union. They also have aligned on how to resolve litigation between the union and the company and are seeking to establish a fair process for workers to organize.

As a sign of good faith, the coffee giant has agreed to provide workers who are union members with access to credit card tipping as well as the benefits provided to non-union Starbucks workers in May 2022. Workers United had asked for these benefits to be extended to labor in unionized stores in August 2022.

“While there is plenty of work ahead, coming together to develop this framework is a significant step forward and a clear demonstration of a shared commitment to working collaboratively and with mutual respect,” according to a statement on the Workers United site.

In May 2023 Workers United tried to get Starbucks to bargain for a national contract for the 300+ stores it represented at that time, but the company wanted to keep bargaining with individual unionized stores.


Starbucks had previously been strongly anti-union, particularly under its former CEO Howard Schultz, who testified to a U.S. Senate committee in March 2023 that the retailer didn’t have the authority to extend benefits to unionized workers. In June 2022 Schultz told The New York Times that he could not foresee embracing a union representing Starbucks workers.

However, Schultz’ successor Laxman Narasimhan appears much more open to the prospect of collective bargaining. “Since Laxman became CEO, he’s spent time in our stores, listening to, and learning from, partners,” wrote Sara Kelly, EVP and Chief Partner Officer at Starbucks in a blog post. “He’s been clear that we are deeply committed to delivering on our partner promise and to restitching the fabric of the green apron for all partners at Starbucks.”

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