This week, the Starbucks union wave continued to sweep across the country with a victory at three new union stores in Ithaca, New York. Now, 16 Starbucks locations across the country have voted to join unions, and more than 150 will soon hold a vote on joining unions. The chain’s new CEO Howard Schultz is clearly nervous about these developments, culminating in several tense exchanges with workers at a meeting between Schultz and Starbucks employees in Long Beach, California.
according to New York PostSchultz made no secret of words as he spoke to workers who confronted the CEO about the company’s anti-union approach, which allegedly included retaliation against baristas who publicly support the union by firing or reducing their hours. “If you hate Starbucks so much, why not go somewhere else?” , Schultz is reported to have told baristas and union organizer Madison Hall.
Schultz has been an outspoken anti-union for decades. This is not new. But what is his level? public Frustration in these conversations about unions at Starbucks. To any observer watching Starbucks’ engagement with workers, Schultz appears to be growing increasingly concerned about how successful the Union campaign at Starbucks will ultimately be.
And there are certainly reasons why a strong CEO fears the power of workers. Until the first Starbucks voted to join a union, Starbucks leadership had unilateral authority over its workforce, through thick and thin. But when the majority of the brand’s 8,000-plus corporate-operated stores in the United States are operated by union workers who will have a say in their pay and working conditions, Starbucks will have to share a much larger chunk of billions of dollars. Quarterly earnings for people who make and serve coffee.
That seems to be worrying investors on both sides of the problem already — some worry the union’s efforts will succeed, while others see Starbucks’ anti-union stance as bad for a company that has long described itself as a progressive employer. On April 12, analysts at Citigroup downgraded Starbucks’ stock from “buy” to “neutral,” saying that potential investors should wait and see how Schultz handles ongoing business disputes before they dump their money in the company. Weeks ago, some of the company’s most powerful shareholders issued a public letter urging Starbucks to calm it down using anti-union tactics. Schultz’s breakdown indicates that the advice was not fully adhered to.
But Schultz would do well to realize that his strategy of talking to workers may eventually backfire. that it The coffee maker is unlikely to see any level of engagement in Schultz, who has a net worth of around $4 billion and used his surplus money to run for president of the United States. Plus, Starbucks’ workforce is young, and Generation Z coffee makers don’t seem to be easily intimidated. They are camping outside of Starbucks locations, spreading the word on TikTok, and vocalizing their demands for better wages. At this point in the Great Resignation, workers are in a unique position to demand more, and that’s not entirely good news for Starbucks’ hardline stance against worker regulation.
When all is said and done, many Starbucks locations will likely end up with a union, meaning the company could be wasting millions of dollars on anti-union advisors and lawyers and National Labor Relations Board complaints in doing so. They could have done the right thing – sit down to negotiate with their workers as required by law – in the first place.