The Stand

Jayapal joins lawmakers urging Starbucks against union-busting

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 4, 2022) — Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash., 7th) joined more than 30 members of Congress on Monday in signing a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz requesting a fair bargaining process for all Starbucks employees and expressing “great concern” about National Labor Relations Board charges that Starbucks is withholding pay and benefit increases from workers actively unionizing across its U.S. stores.

“We have a concern about reports that pay increases and benefits are only being offered to non-unionized stores,” wrote the lawmakers, in a letter spearheaded by Rep. Mo Khanna (D-Calif.) “If accurate, such disparate treatment could set an alarming precedent that, in our opinion, is not consistent with U.S. labor laws, including the National Labor Relations Act.”

Khanna expressed hope that Starbucks, which cultivates an image of being a progressive corporation and employer, will alter its current course of aggressively opposing unions and lead the way in helping change the lives of workers around the nation.

“If (Starbucks) ends up being supportive of unionization, they could set a model for the food and drink industry in America,” Khanna told MarketWatch. “Then they could rightly say they’re being progressive.”

Instead, Starbucks and its billionaire CEO Howard Shultz has taken an aggressively anti-union stance since its employees began organizing unions late last year. Not only does the company face federal charges for illegally withholding pay raises to unionized employees, Starbucks has also illegally fired multiple union supporters, some of whom the coffee chain has been forced to reinstate.

The current wave of union organizing at Starbucks began in December 2021 with a store in Buffalo, N.Y. There are now 247 Starbucks stores in 35 states have won union elections, including 16 in Washington state. Just 54 stores have lost an election. Dozens more Starbucks stores have filed for a union and are awaiting NLRB-supervised elections, including three more in Washington.

The wave of organizing continues…

Here is the full text of Khanna’s Oct. 3 letter to Starbucks signed by Jayapal and 30 other members of Congress:

Howard Schultz
Chief Executive Officer
Starbucks Coffee Company
2401 Utah Avenue South
Seattle, WA. 98134

cc: Starbucks Workers United

Dear Mr. Schultz,

We, as Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, write with great concern regarding recent reports filed by the National Labor Relations Board stating Starbucks withheld pay and an increase in benefits from workers actively unionizing across 242 stores nationwide. As workers renegotiate the compact between employee and employer across workplaces nationwide, we encourage both parties to work together, mend differences and unite to help build an economy that works for everyone.

The country welcomed Starbucks’ announcement of $200 million in added worker pay and benefits at a moment when American workers are struggling to make ends meet. In addition, we believe efforts by Starbucks to increase pay and benefits, including training, career development opportunities, enhanced tipping and other benefits are necessary tenets to investing in and retaining a strong workforce.

However, we have a concern about reports that pay increases and benefits are only being offered to non-unionized stores. If accurate, such disparate treatment could set an alarming precedent that, in our opinion, is not consistent with U.S. labor laws, including the National Labor Relations Act.

As elected representatives, our conviction is that a fair relationship between an employee and an employer is key to a strong and resilient American economy, and we support legislation that encourages these policies. We hope you give our concerns your full and fair consideration.

Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=111744

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