Responding to Workers United’s Pride Month smear campaign

Responding to the Union’s requests for information related to gender-affirming health benefits

In response to the false narrative that Workers United continues to push regarding alleged changes in coverage for gender-affirming healthcare, Starbucks vp of partner resources May Jensen sent another letter to Workers United President Lynne Fox today expressing concerns about the union’s request for information.

The letter reiterates that Starbucks has not made any change to the same-sex and gender-affirming care benefits provided to partners and underscores confidentiality concerns related to requests made by the union for highly-confidential, protected health information related to store-level partners who may receive gender-affirming care.

“The cavalier nature in which you have requested this information—without any response to Starbucks attempts to discuss partners’ confidentiality interests—suggests that you have not considered the extreme sensitivity of a partners’ decision to seek gender-affirming care.”

“Furthermore, it demonstrates your dereliction of duty to protect partners’ confidentiality interests as you attempt to use store-specific gender-affirming care data to advance your smear campaign and further promote fear-mongering amongst LGBTQIA2+ partners.”

June 26, 2023

On Monday, June 26, 2023, Starbucks filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Workers United for an unlawful smear campaign that includes making maliciously and recklessly false statements about:

  1. The industry-leading gender affirming care benefits Starbucks offers its partners.
  2. Starbucks longstanding corporate policy allowing Pride decorations in its stores.

Filings against Workers United

For nearly four decades years, Starbucks has been at the forefront of supporting the LGBTQIA2+ community. We can not and will not tolerate these deliberate misrepresentations being broadcast to our partners. This is not what our partners expect or deserve, which is why we filed the following two ULP charges:

Let us be clear, regardless of organizing activity or representation status, Starbucks continues to provide its partners enrolled in a Starbucks health plan with industry-leading gender-affirming care benefits, including medical travel reimbursement coverage to ensure access to care.

Furthermore, we have always empowered stores to decorate for heritage months in accordance with our standards. This year, in alignment with past practices, we have encouraged our partners to engage with local leaders to authentically celebrate the diversity of the communities we call home.

Unfortunately, the union’s unlawful campaign has ignited and inflamed workplace tensions and divisions. Because of this, we felt the need to clarify our stance with an unequivocal policy, so that we can no longer be accused of daylight between our allyship and our actions.

Today, Starbucks announced we will issue more clear guidance, and leverage resources like our Period Planning Kit (PPK) and Siren’s Eye, for in-store visual displays and decorations that will continue to represent inclusivity and our brand. 

For Starbucks, Pride Month is just one of the many ways we support and celebrate our LGBTQIA2+ partners and the community, and it’s our own partners who inform the commitments and actions we continue to take.