- Starbucks is changing some of its benefits, including a 3% pay raise in January for most workers. Employees with “2-5 years of service will get at least 4% and those with 5 or more years of service will get at least 5%,” the company announced on Monday in a press release.
- The rest of the coffee giant’s changes include: a “Siren Card” with Visa; a national barista championship; and changes to its partner app, scheduling procedure and vacation accrual scheme. Baristas who have worked 90 days are now eligible for vacation.
- Union workers will not be eligible for some of the benefits. The benefits changes were part of an effort to discourage workers from organizing, a worker speaking on behalf of Starbucks Workers United said in a statement emailed to Restaurant Dive. The union will file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over these policy changes.
Starbucks did not communicate with the union about the benefits changes. The company said it has continually reached out to Starbucks Workers United to set up bargaining sessions on a contract, but claimed the union has not bargained since mid-June. SBWU did not respond to a request for comment on the state of bargaining, but did say the new benefits were intended to stymie the union.
“Starbucks is responding to our bargaining demands, but they're implementing them in nonunion stores and denying these new benefits to workers in stores that are unionizing or already voted to join the union,” Alex Yeager, a Starbucks worker and SBWU member, said in a statement.
Unionized workers will be eligible for the Siren Card, as it is not a mandatory subject of bargaining, the company said. Many union workers will be able to access the changes to the partner app, which was announced in May 2022 before many unionized stores filed for elections, according to a Starbucks spokesperson. All stores will be impacted by the change to scheduling procedure.
Starbucks said it is trying to make its scheduling more predictable, and, according to the press release, “collects a range of preferred, minimum, and maximum hours” to further that end. It’s not clear how this process, which resemble scheduling procedures described by Starbucks workers to Restaurant Dive in background reporting for other articles, differs from established practice.
“Starbucks will give all union-represented partners annual wage increases differentiated by tenure in alignment with previous, historical adjustments for each store,” Starbucks wrote in an email to Restaurant Dive. Starbucks Workers United members have advocated for seniority pay since the start of the campaign, and the union lists raises based on tenure as one of its contract demands.
Union workers are, however, excluded from the barista championship, as it awards prizes and travel “considerations,” and from the vacation accrual change, which would constitute a change to working conditions over which Starbuck must bargain, the company wrote.
Starbucks faces a number of unfair labor practice charges over its denial of new benefits to union workers. Starbucks has maintained that several rounds of new benefits announced since August 2021, including credit card tipping, student loan refinancing and enhanced in-app tipping on credit and debit card transactions, are not intended as a response to SBWU’s organizing. Promising employees benefits in return for workers opposing a union drive is illegal, and implementing changes to working conditions at unionized workplaces without bargaining is also illegal. Employers can sometimes make changes consistent with prior practices.
A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge found in a ruling in September that Starbucks’ previous benefits expansions were a response to union organizing and that its listening sessions constituted “solicitation of grievances.” Starbucks appealed the decision and claimed the ALJ decision broke with NLRB precedent. Workers United attempted to waive the obligation to bargain over those changes. Starbucks' appeal will bring the matter before the full NLRB, and likely the federal courts, before the issue is settled.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, the availability of Starbucks’ in-app tipping benefit to unionized stores was misstated. The basic in-app tipping feature is available to all employees.