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Starbucks Tells Union It Wants to Resume Contract Talks

Starbucks said Friday that it wanted to get back to the bargaining table after a deadlock of more than six months with the union that represents more than 9,000 of its workers.

The company is proposing that bargaining continue with a set of organized stores in January, Sara Kelly, Starbucks’s vice president and chief partner officer, said in a letter to Lynne Fox, president of Workers United, the parent union of Starbucks Workers United.

“We collectively agree, the current impasse should not be acceptable to either of us,” Ms. Kelly said in the letter. “It has not helped Starbucks, Workers United or, most importantly, our partners. In this spirit, we are asking for your support and agreement to restart bargaining.”

Starbucks said it would like to conduct these meetings without audio or video recording “so that all participants are comfortable with open, honest discussions.” The union has previously fought for the negotiations to be conducted by videoconference so that more members could take part.

Ms. Fox said in a statement that the union was reviewing the letter and still determining how to respond. “We’ve never said no to meeting with Starbucks,” she said. “Anything that moves bargaining forward in a positive way is most welcome.”

Starbucks workers began organizing in 2021 with three Buffalo-area stores. Now more than 350 of the company’s roughly 9,300 corporate-owned stores in the United States are organized.

In those two years, the coffee giant and its workers have sparred over issues ranging from Pride Month décor to accusations of company retaliation. The two sides have blamed each other for stalled talks since their last meeting on May 23.

Most recently, workers at more than 200 stores walked out on Nov. 16, which fell on Starbucks’ promotional Red Cup Day.

The union has filed hundreds of charges with the National Labor Relations Board complaining of unfair labor practices, with accusations including unjust firings and withholding certain health care benefits for organized workers. The agency itself has sided with workers in many of those disputes.

The company has also sued the union over allegations of using the company’s intellectual property in pro-Palestinian messaging.


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