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Starbucks workers union seeks pay hikes, benefits for unionized stores

Starbucks Workers United, who are the union representing Starbucks staff, have asked that the company provide pay increases along with extended benefits to unionized stores.

In May, Starbucks delivered pay increases to non-unionized stores.  Starbucks said they were unable to implement a pay hike at unionized stores without undergoing a bargaining process with the union.

“So, partners will receive these pay, benefits and store-improvement investments at all U.S. company-operated stores where Starbucks has the right to unilaterally make these changes,” the company said in a statement. “However, at stores where workers have union representation, federal law requires good faith bargaining over wages, benefits and working conditions which prohibits Starbucks from making or announcing unilateral changes.”

Starbucks Workers United has requested that Starbucks provide a pay rise to unionized stores and forego the bargain process.

CNBC was able to obtain a letter sent to the Starbucks CEO requesting extra pay and also benefits, which include travel expenses for employees who wish to cross state lines for either an abortion or gender related care, to unionized stores.

“Workers United refuses to stand by while Starbucks cynically promises new benefits only to non-unionized workers and withholds them from our members,” Lynne Fox, the president of Workers United, wrote.

Starbucks referred to the union’s worksheet and said that the law states this is not possible. The company said in a statement: “The law is clear: once a store unionizes, no changes to benefits are allowed without good faith collective bargaining.”

The National Labor Relations Board confirmed that 200 Starbucks stores have unionized whereas 40 have chosen not to unionize.

Some labor lawyers have said there is a high likelihood that this case will be heard before the National Labor Relations board. “Once a union has been certified, an employer is obligated to bargain with that union before making any changes to terms and conditions of employment,” said Stephen Holroyd, who is a lawyer at Jennings Sigmond.

Daniel Sobol, who is a lawyer at Stevens & Lee who has previously represented companies in cases against unions, said the NLRB and federal courts have clashed on this issue in the past.

“If [benefit enhancements are] done solely to chill unionizing, that could be an issue,” he said. But with employers adjusting wages in the inflationary environment, he said Starbucks might not be obligated to give the raises to unionized employees.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: CNBC

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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