Fact check: Union’s latest claims distort the process and our efforts 

Today’s claims by Workers United distort the legal process for review of Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) allegations and ignore Starbucks attempt to make progress toward reaching first contracts for union-represented stores. 

Under U.S. labor law, anyone can file an ULP — or make allegations — against an employer or a union. The process for reviewing the merits of these allegations is multi-step, includes several steps of review within the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the federal circuit courts.  

We are disheartened by these allegations because we continue to demonstrate that we are committed to better communicating with unions elected to represent our partners and are pursuing a path forward that would allow us to resume productive contract negotiations for our represented U.S. partners.

As validated by a recent independent, third-party assessment

  • Disciplinary actions have been issued at a similar rate in both union and non-union stores.  
  • Starbucks has shown consistent progress to commitments it has made to respecting partners’ rights to freedom of association. Since organizing began, Starbucks has made and strategic investments in a stronger governance process, more on-the-ground support, a dedicated labor relations team and more bespoke management training have had a tangible impact on the Company’s adherence to commitments made.
  • There is no evidence Starbucks has, or has used, an “anti-union playbook,” and the Company has provided consistent reassurances to partners that Starbucks respects their right to collectively organize through fairly conducted elections.  
  • Starbucks has encouraged partners to vote, and voting participation in single-store representation elections has steadily increased from less than 60% to approximately 80% today. The increase in participation has not diluted union support, which indicates effective efforts by Starbucks to encourage voting without regard to positions on unionization.   

In the past year, where unions have been elected to represent Starbucks partners, representatives have appeared in person for first bargaining sessions for more than 150 separate stores. At nearly all, bargaining committees for Starbucks did not have the opportunity to present or discuss proposals.

Starbucks has continued to propose dates for bargaining sessions on a weekly basis — but Workers United has not confirmed or appeared for any proposed contract bargaining session since June 14, 2023. Our December 8, 2023, outreach to Workers United President Lynne Fox was meant to help find a path forward that prioritizes the needs of our partners, break the impasse between the parties and help us progress store-by-store negotiations — with the aim of reaching ratified contracts for represented stores this year.

We’ve continued to propose bargaining sessions since December 8, 2023. In that same timeframe, we’ve met with other unions and have continued on a path forward for contract negotiations. 

Starbucks remains ready to progress in-person negotiations with the unions certified to represent partners and we are hopeful that Workers United will resume bargaining sessions toward ratified agreements in 2024. That way, parties can propose specific contract proposals tailored to the unique needs of store partners, jointly approve tentative agreements and progress negotiations towards complete contracts for each store.

Claim: The company is illegally prohibiting union workers from taking part in the North American Barista Championship.

Fact: The newly announced North American Barista Championships includes paid time for participation in the competition and related travel, representing a new change to wages, benefits, and/or terms and conditions of employment.

According to decades of established U.S. labor law, new changes to wages, benefits and/or terms and conditions of employment are subject to bargaining between the employer and certified union representatives. 

Claim: In January, the company gave raises to workers at nonunion stores, but gave smaller raises to some workers at union stores.

Fact: In alignment with past practices, all partners at U.S. company-owned stores — including those represented by a union — received 3-4% regular annual wage increases, consistent with raises provided the past two years. More than 75 union-represented stores also received wage increases, differentiated by tenure, of up to 5% based on when store partners notified the Company of their intent to pursue union representation. 

We continue to create value for our partners by improving wages and scheduled hours for all partners — helping the average U.S. hourly partner realize a 20% increase in take home income over the past year.

Claim: Starbucks recently offered new benefits, including faster vacation accrual, career opportunities, scheduling improvements, and access to programs to help improve credit scores, only to partners at nonunion stores.

Fact: Between Nov. 2 and 6, 2023, Starbucks announced several investments in the partner experience, including both new and improved benefits offerings. As a partner first company, wherever we can quickly and broadly improve partner benefits and perks we have and always will. We continue to listen to the evolving needs of all partners and are committed to supporting all partners in their jobs, on their teams and in their lives.  

  • Earlier paid vacation accrual is a new change to terms and conditions of employment, per the NLRA, and must be bargained with the union. 
  • Improvements to the Partner App include access to trainings only available when partners are clocked in, and is considered a condition of employment subject to bargaining. Given the timing of the announcement, a majority of union-represented stores already have full access to the Partner App.
  • Scheduling improvements designed to help build better schedules for partners apply to all U.S. stores regardless of union status. 
  • The Siren Card developed in partnership with cred.ai and access to the credit score builder is available to all U.S. partners 18 and over regardless of union status.

Claim: Starbucks shut down a Providence, Rhode Island, store a few days after partners voted for union representation and showed up to work wearing union tee shirts. 

Fact: All partners are held to lawful, nondiscriminatory standards, including our dress code policies. We train local supervisors to consistently apply these standards while fully respecting our partners’ right to organize and engage in protected activity without fear of reprisal or retaliation.

Our dress code policies for customer-facing partners are intended to align with applicable health and safety regulations and specifically allow the opportunity for partners to display their support for a union and other approved company sponsored organizations. Per established policies in our Partner Guide, graphic tee shirts, regardless of content, are not permitted.

Partners not following the dress code are given the option to change. Partners at this location who clocked out to change did not return, requiring the store to temporarily close due to lack of staffing. 

Claim: The company punishes workers for wearing union pins on their uniforms.

Fact: Partners are held to consistent, nondiscriminatory standards including our established dress code policies. As outlined in our Partner Guide, the dress code policy specifically allows the opportunity for partners to display their support for a union by wearing a union pin on their apron.

Claim: The company is retaliating against workers who support the union by unfairly disciplining them.

Fact: All partners receive training on our policies and are aware that failing to uphold them can result in corrective action up to and including separation.

As noted in the recent independent, third-party assessment, disciplinary actions have been issued at a similar rate in both union and non-union stores. Most of those policy violations subject to these allegations pertain to punctuality and attendance, and theft, violence, profanity and harassment involving their peers or customers.

Many of the allegations now working their way through the litigation process occurred early in the union’s organizing campaign, before the Company launched more bespoke management training and a dedicated labor relations team.

Claim: A barista in Philadelphia was separated due to their support for the union.

Fact: The partner named in today’s claims was separated from our 20th and Market Street store after reporting late to work more than 30 times in a three month period. During that time period, they were provided a documented coaching, written warning and final written warning for repeated time and attendance issues. Due to continued violations of our time and attendance policy following repeated coachings and warnings, they were separated from employment on Dec. 19, 2023.  

As a Company, we fully respect our partners rights to participate in lawful union activities, but involvement in a union does not exempt partners from established lawful company policies. Starbucks provides all management training on compliance with national labor laws and assistance to address compliance issues as they arise. That training instructs local supervisors to apply our policies in a consistent manner regardless of union representation.

Claim: Starbucks has systematically refused to recognize the union that their workers have voted for in 394 stores across the country.

Fact: At every store where a union has prevailed in appropriately conducted NLRB-certified elections, we respect the vote and the certification as a representative of the partners. We have engaged in good faith efforts to begin in-person negotiations towards a first contract for the store.

Claim: Starbucks has refused to recognize or bargain with Workers United for a store in Manchester, Connecticut. 

Fact: Partners at our Spencer St. store in Manchester, Connecticut, filed a petition for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board on Nov. 29, 2023. Following their petition, the NLRB conducted a secret ballot election on Jan. 3, 2024. The vote resulted in a tie vote by partners, with 9 for and 9 against union representation. According to the National Labor Relations Act, that means that the union will not become the bargaining representative for partners once the election outcome is certified by the NLRB.