For the Starbucks Union campaign, an abrasive contract fight is just beginning

The Starbucks campaign has so far succeeded in merging nearly 20 American stores of the coffee chain, a historic turning point in the labor movement. But the union effort is currently in its infancy Still heavier lift: First contract negotiations.

Starbucks has every incentive not to offer workers a satisfactory contract because it will encourage them to organize more workers. From the union’s point of view, Workers ‘United, gaining tangible gains in a collective bargaining agreement could turbocharge the already agitating regulatory movement and bring into the fold the US stores owned by Starbucks’ 9,000 corporations.

The two sides could now have an abrasive fight at the negotiating table that will ultimately determine the future of the unions at Starbucks.

Starbucks spokesman Reggie Porges predicts that “it will be difficult for our partners to create a deal that meets or breaks what we have already offered.” “These deals do not start on the basis of the benefits our partners receive. That is the rule of thumb. Contract negotiations start at zero.

(After this story ran, Borges said he was wrong to talk about contract negotiations[ing] At zero. “” Bargaining involves many variables and no one can predict its outcome, “he said.)

Starbucks has already pointed out some hard ball tricks before. CEO Howard Schultz suggested at a recent corporate forum that Starbucks could unveil new benefits. All places except Union places, Because those stores are now negotiating their own terms of work. According to The Wall Street Journal, “people who can vote for a union do not really understand,” Schultz said.

“Starbucks has every incentive not to offer workers a satisfactory contract because it would encourage them to organize more workers.”

One of the challenges for the union is to consolidate its influence against the company. The campaign, known as Starbucks Workers United, has been organizing shop-wise chain stores, filing elections in areas where union support is high. The company has Pushed to the big election It would cover an entire market – Buffalo, New York, the home of the first unionized union – but the National Labor Relations Board rejected that argument and sided with the union.

The union’s store-by-store strategy is more manageable than trying to consolidate Starbucks nationally or market-wise. But it technically contracts with every store that joins the union.

Barista, the union leader and union leader, said the campaign treats each Starbucks separately and that the use of the same contract for each outpost “goes against what we said from the beginning”. Eason said the union hopes to achieve what is called nationalism Structure For a trade union agreement – Union Starbucks stores that include basic warranties throughout, but allow individual stores to address their own concerns.

“The company’s features in these stores are consistent, but there are many features that are not,” he said.

Michael Eisen IV, from the right, speaks to members of the union campaign.

Eisen said he works in a small walk-in area called Cafe, in corporate parlance, and that his store operates differently from the recently unionized drive-through store like Mesa in Arizona. Some contract language for one person may not be understood by the other.

“We need to find the components of the store that become the standard and national structure – but also allow fluidity within the contracts that each individual store can fulfill,” Eisen said.

Starbucks Borges says the company has no intention of hammering national standards in any way, no matter how many stores it decides to merge.

“In our view, the law and the NLRB provided each individual store with its own unit to the union,” Borges said. “So now we’re moving forward with individual contracts for each of those stores.”

Getting the first contract might be Worst hard In the United States, in part, employers do not face meaningful penalties for dragging out the process. It is a common tactic for companies to bargain in “bad faith” and make no real progress on the table, believing that union support will decline over time and perhaps even the union RejectedOr refined from the workplace.

With only a handful of stores eventually merging, it would be easy to disable the Starbucks campaign. But the union has applied to more than 200 shops, and they have already lost only two of the more than 20 votes (the results of some of which have not been certified). At this pace, the union is likely to gain more influence at the bargaining table and gain public support.

“It is clear that this is a very labor-driven organizational drive, and workers are in very good communication with each other,” said Rebecca Given, associate professor of labor studies at Rutgers University. “Therefore, we know that workers who are already at the bargaining table in a store will try to gain a broader understanding of what workers everywhere want when they establish their demands.”

Borges assured that the company would negotiate in good faith: “We’re going to be respectful. We’re going to respect the process.” But reaching a contract can actually take many years, depending on the company’s desire to eventually reach a contract.

“It is clear that this is a very labor – driven organizational drive, and workers are in very good communication with each other.”

– Rebecca Given, Rudders University

Starbucks has hired dozens of lawyers from the union-avoidance law firm Litler Mendelssohn. The union is slowing down the election, Starbucks has sent managers to force workers to vote against the union. But as the campaign grows, Kwan said every store is determined to fight the union initiative.

“That strategy can be difficult to maintain in a dozen bargaining schedules, especially when workers are fully aligned and integrated with each other,” he said.

Starbucks has also fired several well-known union supporters. The company says all of these layoffs are for legitimate reasons, but Labor Board officials have already determined it Seven shots fired at Memphis Were a reflection of union activity, and therefore illegal. Bloomberg recently announced that it would sue Starbucks if the Labor Board did not agree to a settlement.

As workers talk about the company’s handling of the union campaign, Starbucks is likely to face a backlash from customers affecting its base. If the union lists labor-friendly politicians and other top supporters willing to criticize the company, the stakes will be even higher in the ugly deal fight.

Sharon Black, a professor of labor law at Harvard University and a former White House executive, said brand dynamics were “difficult to measure”, but that reputable reviews should be in the Starbucks calculus.

“I imagine it weighs in on their decision-making,” he said. “It’s not just about doing [financial] Mathematics. “

If workers can successfully organize hundreds of stores, Starbucks will find itself recognizing itself as a union boss and bargaining accordingly. .

Eason said he often thinks about that opportunity and thinks about how much to arrange to get there. He said putting together a store would take longer than one would expect. He believes public support for the campaign is ultimately more important than how many stores end up in the union column.

“We gain strength, frankly, in every petition that is filed and in every store that wins,” he said. “What they have been saying for the last 50 years is that if the company is real, there is still room for them to make changes, to be absorbed, and to become a truly progressive and exemplary leading company.”

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