In December 2021, the first Starbucks cafe to organize swiftly prompted a hole in the dike, and nine months later, over 230 locations (out of 9000+) have followed suit. Returning – and then outgoing – CEO Howard Schultz attempted to tamp down the flames, but he couldn’t outrun the momentum of the initial organizing wave, which caught the coffeehouse giant off guard.
Current CEO Laxman Narasimhan took the reins this spring, and he’s obviously got his work cut out for him, but the company began to announce special benefits for non-union workers. Most recently, that includes tools to help workers repay student loans and other financial planning resources. This follows boosted pay for these same workers, which rose to $17 per hour (on average) in cities across the U.S. In addition, COO John Culver came forward with a plan to build morale: a $450M investment to retool cafes and make workers’ jobs quicker and (hopefully) easier.
About that cleanup effort: former Starbucks workers who claim that they were fired for organizing are moving through the NLRB process. An appeals court rejected a company appeal surrounding seven fired Memphis workers, who will be reinstated. An organizer in Buffalo, New York resigned while accusing her manager of purposefully declining to work with her scheduling requests. And New York City filed suit against Starbucks for terminating a barista a month after he organized a location, despite his long-standing history as a Starbucks worker.