Starbucks Workers Win Historic Breakthrough After Months of Struggle


After a long and hard-fought campaign, Starbucks workers have achieved a major victory by forcing the company to agree to start collective bargaining and stop discriminating against union members.


How did the Union Drive start?

The union drive at Starbucks began in 2021 when a group of workers at a Buffalo store decided to organize for better working conditions, pay, and benefits. They faced fierce opposition from the company, which launched a massive anti-union campaign that included hiring union-busting consultants, holding captive-audience meetings, and spreading misinformation and fear among workers. Despite these tactics, the workers at the Buffalo store voted to form a union in December 2021, becoming the first Starbucks store in the US to do so.

How has the movement spread?

Inspired by the Buffalo workers, more Starbucks workers across the country joined the union movement, forming Starbucks Workers United (SWU), an affiliate of Workers United, a union that represents workers in various industries. SWU adopted a worker-to-worker organizing model in which rank-and-file workers took on the responsibilities of recruiting, educating, and mobilizing their co-workers with minimal involvement from paid staff. This enabled SWU to file union elections at hundreds of stores in a short period, creating a wave of unionization that the company could not stop. By February 2024, SWU had organized more than 360 stores, representing about 9,000 workers.

How has the company resisted?

Starbucks did not give up its anti-union efforts, even after losing several union elections. The company continued to delay and deny the bargaining process, refusing to recognize the union at some stores, challenging the election results at others, and imposing unfair conditions for negotiations. The company also discriminated against union members, denying them equal benefits and credit card tips that non-union workers received. The company also tried to exploit the political and social tensions in the country, accusing the union of supporting terrorism and endangering the safety of workers.

How did the workers fight back?

The workers did not let the company intimidate or divide them. They fought back with various actions, such as rallies, petitions, media campaigns, and strikes. They also built solidarity with other workers, customers, community groups, and elected officials, who supported their cause and put pressure on the company. They also challenged the company’s legal maneuvers, filing unfair labor practice charges and appealing to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). They also exposed the company’s hypocrisy, contrasting its progressive image with its anti-worker practices.

How did the breakthrough happen?

The breakthrough happened on February 29, 2024, when SWU announced that it had reached a constructive path forward with the company on the future of organizing and collective bargaining at Starbucks. According to the joint statement, the company agreed to stop denying benefits and credit card tipping to union members and to work towards a foundational framework for collective bargaining agreements. The statement also said that the company and the union shared a commitment to working collaboratively and with mutual respect. The statement did not provide any details on the framework or the timeline for negotiations, but it indicated a significant shift in the company’s stance and a recognition of the union’s power.

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

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