Starbucks, Workers United made 'significant progress' in this week's contract talks

A Starbucks worker boards the Starbucks union bus after Starbucks workers stood on the picket line with striking SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America (WGA) members in solidarity outside Netflix studios on July 28, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. 

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Starbucks and Workers United, which represents roughly 500 of its cafes, said Friday in a joint release that they made “significant progress” in their contract talks this week.

The two parties discussed a process to resolve grievances, details related to the union’s representation of Starbucks baristas, and other topics on Wednesday and Thursday in Atlanta, according to the press release.

The two-day session marked the first time in nearly a year that Starbucks and Workers United came to the bargaining table. It followed a February announcement that the two sides were ending their bitter stalemate.

The coffee giant spent more than two years battling the union, which is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU. Workers United has broadly pushed for higher wages and more consistent scheduling, among a range of other priorities.

This week’s talks are the closest that any of the unionized locations, which make up a small fraction of Starbucks’ total U.S. footprint, have come to a collective bargaining agreement.

Yet, there’s still a long road ahead.

“There’s more to do, but we are committed to working together,” both sides said in a joint statement.

Starbucks and the union plan to meet again in late May to keep working on the framework that will inform every single-store contract, according to the release. Individual stores will still have to negotiate and ratify their contracts once that foundation has been built.

Labor laws do not require that the employer and union reach a collective bargaining agreement, only that both bargain in good faith. After a year, workers who lose faith in the union can petition to decertify, putting a ticking clock on negotiations. 

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