Starbucks workers rally in Albany over working conditions

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A crowd of about 20 to 30 Starbucks workers rallied in Albany on Tuesday. Workers are calling out the corporation for unfair labor practices.

The workers said they’re not complaining about the actual job. They just want better working conditions.

Some things the passionate crowd is asking for are guaranteed hours, a base wage with annual raises adjusted for the cost of living and 100% employee paid healthcare.

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Starbucks released this statement to NewsChannel 13:

While we respect the right of our partners to engage in lawful union activities without fear of retaliation, inaccurate information shared by Workers United ignores the facts of the matter and distracts from efforts to move the good faith bargaining process forward—including the in-person bargaining session for our Stuyvesant Plaza store in Albany, occurring today.

At the three stores in Albany, New York, where Workers United has been appropriately certified as the bargaining representative for our partners, Starbucks has fully honored the process laid out by the NLRB and has worked to ensure that partners can trust the process is fair and their voice is heard.

Since Oct. 2022, Starbucks has attempted to schedule more than 390 single-store bargaining sessions and has appeared in-person for 91 contract bargaining sessions. Workers United has failed to identify bargaining representatives for a significant number of the stores they represent — and has only confirmed 24% of bargaining sessions proposed by Starbucks, to-date. Drilling down a bit more:

  • Starbucks has attempted to schedule a total of 8 bargaining sessions for the three represented stores in Albany, to-date(including six proposed sessions for our Stuyvesant Plaza store). 
  • Of the 8 sessions proposed by Starbucks,Workers United has rejected all but one. 
  • Starbucks representatives are currently meeting in-person with Workers United for a first contract bargaining session for our Stuyvesant Plaza store (scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET)

These good faith efforts builds on actions dating back to Sept. 2022, when Starbucks sent letters to Workers United requesting that representatives for more than 200 stores meet us at the table to begin collective bargaining at each location with certified representation. As a hopeful sign, Starbucks has met union representatives in-person for three sets of bargaining sessions in Seattle, Richmond and Pittsburgh in the past month and has four additional in-person sessions scheduled in markets across the U.S. through May 2023 (including two this week).

Regarding demands made by Workers United at the rally today: Starbucks has consistently offered hourly partners the best benefits in the industry, including:

  • An average wage of $17.50 per hour, and a wage range for hourly partners between $15 and $23 per hour (or a total compensation, with benefits, of approximately $27 per hour). 
  • Comprehensive medical, dental and vision coverage options for eligible partners and their families. 
  • 100% tuition reimbursementfor a four-year bachelor’s degree through the Starbucks College Achievement Program. 
  • Paid parental leave, family expansion reimbursement programs and increased paid partner and family sick-time accrual rates. 
  • Reimbursement for required government DACA fees
  • Medical travel reimbursement for partners and family members who are required to travel for access to abortion or gender-affirming care. 
  • Support for mental health and well-being, with up to 20 free therapy sessions each year for partners and eligible family members. 
  • Equity ownership in the company through annual Bean Stock grants, which have awarded more than $2 billion in additional earnings to partners, to-date. 
  • 401(k) matching up to the first 5% of eligible pay contributed by partners each pay period. 
  • Innovative resources to help our partners better manage student loan debt and a new incentivized savings programs to help partners develop financial security and freedom. 

When a union has been elected to represent partners at a particular store, all wages, benefits, hours and other employment terms and conditions are “mandatory” collective bargaining subjects. Rather than publicizing rallies and protests, we encourage Workers United to live up to their obligations by meeting us in-person for other represented stores in Albany to discuss these subjects and to move the good faith bargaining process forward.

The workers who rallied released this statement:

Today, workers at the Stuyvesant Plaza union Starbucks store became the first Albany Starbucks store to go on an unfair labor practice strike, to protest Starbucks’ refusal to bargain with workers in good faith, which the company has a legal obligation to do. Starbucks workers from all across upstate New York, including Rochester, Buffalo, and Ithaca, will be rallying with union leaders and elected officials to demand that Starbucks come to the bargaining table.  

At nearly 100 sessions over the last several months, Starbucks has illegally insisted that the union exclude members of their bargaining committee, and have refused to listen to workers’ proposals because of this. In late March, the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel sided with the Union and will prosecute Starbucks for violating labor law by its refusal to meet with workers when any bargaining committee members observe on zoom.  

Starbucks continues to use flimsy excuses to avoid negotiating with workers, even though workers raised their voice loud and clear and voted for a union. 

“After a year of fighting for a contract, we are excited to be standing with our community and demanding that Starbucks come to the bargaining table in good faith,” said Alex Yeager, a Starbucks leader from Binghamton. “All we want is for Starbucks to hear what we, as baristas, face everyday, and hold them accountable not only for our store, but for the 300 other union stores across the country.”

Starbucks workers are fighting for basic rights like being able to work in a safe, secure, and respectful workplace; a living wage with consistent scheduling; fairness and equity in the workplace; and the right to organize free from fear, intimidation, or coercion.

Starbucks claims to be a “progressive” company, but if they were truly progressive, they would accept their workers’ decision to organize and listen to workers’ proposals on how to make Starbucks a more just, equitable and sustainable company.  Starbucks Workers United is the movement that took the labor movement by storm. Over 7,500 workers at 300 stores nationwide have organized unions, and workers at Starbucks have formed more new unions than at any other U.S. company this century. Workers continue to organize in the face of Starbucks’ unprecedented union-busting campaign. Since March 2022, the NLRB has issued over 80 official Complaints against the Company, encompassing over 1,400 violations, making Starbucks the worst violator of federal labor law in U.S. history.