Starbucks has introduced a set of programs designed to support eligible associates in two critical areas of financial well-being: savings and student loan debt. The new benefits will launch on Sept. 19, 2022 to contribute to associates’ financial stability and help them manage their higher education debt, but reportedly they won’t be initially extended to unionized workers, according to Reuters.
One program is My Starbucks Savings, introduced in partnership with Fidelity. All eligible associates will be able to contribute a portion of after-tax pay on a recurring basis directly from their paycheck to a personal savings account. Additionally, Starbucks will contribute $25 and $50 credits at key saving milestones. up to a total of $250 per incentive eligible associate.
“Too many Americans are unprepared financially to handle the unexpected, and this current economic environment only makes it more important to help people establish solid savings behaviors and foundation to cover short-term expenses,” said Kevin Barry, President of Workplace Investing at Fidelity in a statement. “As this program demonstrates, employers are in a position to help, which is why Fidelity is pleased to work with Starbucks and other companies to provide savers with a path to achieving their financial goals, such as emergency savings.”
Starbucks also will launch a Student Loan Management Benefit through Tuition.io to help eligible associates manage and optimize student loan repayments. Employees and their families will gain access to new tools, individual coaching and resources such as repayment options and loan refinancing. Tools within the platform also will help associates view all their student loan debt in one place and to locate the best individual action to take based on their personal repayment scenario and goals.
“Student loan debt remains a tremendous financial burden for the nearly 48 million U.S. consumers who have borrowed to finance the education necessary to unlock the best career opportunities,” said Scott Thompson, CEO of Tuition.io in a statement. “As we approach the time when payments will be restarted for federal loans, we’re honored to work with Starbucks to support their partners and their families to make the best financial decisions regarding repayment of their student loans and options for financing their future education.”
Starbucks has previously announced that it was working on new benefits that it couldn’t extend to unionized employees. However, Workers United, the union supporting the organized Starbucks associates, has stated that the company can legally offer benefits to unionized stores without formal bargaining, as long as the union agrees.
Among retailers, Starbucks has experienced the most unionization activity, with over 200 stores voting for unionization, and its response has faced scrutiny from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In August 2022, the NLRB won a case in which the District Court of Western Tennessee issued an injunction requiring Starbucks to reinstate seven unlawfully fired workers and rescind and expunge unlawful discipline issued to an employee.
On Sept. 13, the NLRB reportedly issued an unfair labor practices complaint against Starbucks for its treatment of workers who unionized at four Pittsburgh stores, according to Tribune-Review. The complaint included accusations that the company threatened to withhold pay raises if workers unionized and that benefits would be frozen, among other issues.