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Starbucks and Workers United say they’ll restart labor talks

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2021
                                Starbucks employees and supporters link arms during a union election watch party in Buffalo, N.Y. Starbucks and the union organizing its U.S. workers said Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, they have agreed to begin talks with the aim of reaching labor agreements.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2021

    Starbucks employees and supporters link arms during a union election watch party in Buffalo, N.Y. Starbucks and the union organizing its U.S. workers said Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, they have agreed to begin talks with the aim of reaching labor agreements.

Starbucks and the union organizing its U.S. workers said Tuesday they have agreed to begin talks with the aim of reaching labor agreements.

The announcement was a breakthrough for the two sides, which have been at odds since Workers United first organized baristas at a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York, in late 2021.

“Starbucks and Workers United have a shared commitment to establishing a positive relationship in the interests of Starbucks partners,” the company and the union said in a joint statement.

Workers have voted to unionize at more than 370 company-owned Starbucks stores in the U.S., but none of those stores has reached a labor agreement with the company.

The process has been contentious. In multiple cases, federal courts have ordered Starbucks to reinstate workers who were fired after leading unionization efforts at their stores. Regional offices of the National Labor Relations Board also have issued at least 120 complaints against Starbucks for unfair labor practices, including refusal to bargain and reserving pay raises and other benefits for non-union workers.

Starbucks said Tuesday that, in a sign of goodwill, it will provide workers in unionized stores with benefits it announced in May 2022, including the ability for customers to add a tip to their credit card payments.

Starbucks was the first to indicate that it wanted a better relationship with the union. In December, the company said it wanted to restart labor ta lks with the goal of ratifying contract agreements in 2024. Before then, the two sides hadn’t spoken for seven months.

During discussions last week, the two sides said it became clear there was “a constructive path forward on the broader issue of the future of organizing and collective bargaining at Starbucks.”

Starbucks and Workers United said Tuesday that they also plan to discuss resolving litigation between them. In October, Starbucks sued Workers United, saying a pro-Palestinian social media post from a union account early in the Israel-Hamas war angered hundreds of customers and damaged its reputation. The company demanded that the union stop using its name and likeness. Workers United countersued, saying Starbucks had defamed the union and implied it supported terrorism.

“While there is important work ahead, coming together to work on this framework represents an important step forward and is a clear demonstration of a shared commitment to working collaboratively on behalf of partners,” the two sides said in their statement.

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