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Starbucks CEO Threatens to Withhold Benefits From Unionized Workers

The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, has said that his company would not be able to provide expanded benefits to unionized employees, if they were to increase the benefits for workers in the future. This statement has been described as an “indefensible threat” from Schultz by labor organizers who are working to form unions at Starbucks locations around the country. This comes on the heels of several new Starbucks stores having voted to form unions, with as many as 216 stores now being targeted by labor organizers.

What is Starbucks?

Starbucks is an international chain of coffee shops headquartered out of Seattle, WA. It is the largest coffeehouse chain in the world, with more than 33,000 stores globally and an annual income of $4.2 billion. In addition to coffee, the company is also known for offering cold drinks, baked goods, teas, and snacks. It is also generally known for providing free wi-fi, making it a popular spot for people looking to work out of the coffeehouse.

Why Are Starbucks Employees Unionizing?

Employees at Starbucks have begun to organize due to what they consider to be unacceptable working conditions and a lack of adequate pay. In particular, employees point to their treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic as a tipping point, because they were forced to work through long hours with significant supply shortages with only a temporary pay raise to compensate them. They also say they generally want a seat at the table, to be able to have more of a say in how Starbucks conducts its business.

Why Did the CEO Make This Comment?

    CEO Howard Schultz has led the charge for his company in attempting to short-circuit the unionization efforts that are currently ongoing. His statement about not being able to give unionized workers future benefits is, in the eyes of labor organizers, a clear attempt to compel workers into voting against unionization. The implication is that the company will treat non-union workers better than union workers, although Schultz seems to imply that it would be out of his hands, rather than a deliberate management choice.

What Does This Mean For Labor Organizers?

Labor organizers see Schultz’s comments as more anti-union rhetoric. While Starbucks has been doing more for its non-union workers, including giving them more raises, organizers see this as a direct response to their efforts. They believe that if they stop applying pressure to the company, it will simply go back to its previous way of doing things. That is why they have only ramped up their unionization efforts, in the hopes of organizing unions at more stores.

If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.

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