Starbucks agrees to bargain about bargaining with baristas
In February, Starbucks workers at a store in Ashburn, Va., went on an Unfair Labor Practice strike over the unequal enforcement of Starbucks policy as it relates to the unionized baristas. | @WorkersUnitedMA via Twitter (X)

SEATTLE (PAI)—Starbucks, the monster coffee chain that has steadfastly refused to bargain with its unionizing workers unless it’s behind closed doors and shop by shop, has agreed to bargain about bargaining with all of them as a group, in so many words.

The agreement was announced jointly by the firm and Starbucks Workers United—the Service Employees International Union affiliate whose workers are helping the from-the-ground-up Starbucks workers organize.

After two years and no talks between the company and workers at the Starbucks stores that voted to go union, SWU and the workers hailed the agreement to talk.

If the firm negotiates, it’ll have to discuss the demands of some 9,000 workers at 400 Starbucks stores nationwide who voted to go union. Store #400, in Miami, voted on March 7 to unionize. That’s a big “if.” Agreeing to bargain about bargaining could be viewed as yet another Starbucks stall.

The firm refused to bargain with them as a group and again because SWU and the worker reps invited other workers to Zoom in. Starbucks didn’t want the others to see its intransigence. In the only two sessions under that format, Starbucks, led by its union-busting lawyers, walked out after five minutes.

“A giant step forward made possible by thousands and thousands of us joining together and speaking out… THIS IS HUGE,” SWU began its tweets announcing the agreement to bargain about bargaining.

“As a result of our courage and persistence over the last 2 years, SBWU & Starbucks are in talks to build a foundational framework toward contract bargaining and organizing. Leaflets about this giant step forward are now being posted in union-certified stores across the country!

“We have a lot of work left to do, but we’ve never been more optimistic about the future of our union and the working conditions of Starbucks partners everywhere.”

SWU’s Twitter/X feed also attached the company’s statement: “We have agreed with Workers United that we will begin discussions on a foundational framework designed to achieve collective bargaining agreements, including a fair process for organizing, and the resolution of some outstanding litigation.”

The first responding tweet was cautionary, from “Paul Wilson 1328”: “Important to remind everyone that power concedes nothing unless they have to. It was the constant organizing, agitation, and persistence of the partners that made this happen. Hat tip to everyone involved.”

But even as the two sides agreed to bargain over bargaining, Starbucks is battling its workers in the courts. It has a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging when the National Labor Relations Board can seek nationwide 10(j) injunctions against rampant labor law violators.

And Starbucks and other monster worker-hostile firms, Amazon and SpaceX—owned by Elon Musk—are jointly suing in federal court in San Francisco challenging the very legality of the NLRB’s existence. They say its structure, with administrative law judges and prosecutors in the same agency, denies companies due process. Musk and Amazon majority owner Jeff Bezos are two of the nation’s three richest people.


Press Associates
Press Associates

Press Associates Inc. (PAI), is a union news service in Washington D.C. Mark Gruenberg is the editor.