Starbucks bosses listened for six minutes, then walked out of union bargaining session
Starbucks bosses, led by their union-busting lawyer, walked out of contract negotiations, leaving the workers sitting by themselves in the meeting room. | via Starbucks Workers United

NEW YORK (PAI)—In what may be a record for the nation’s shortest-ever opening bargaining session, Starbucks bosses, led by their union-busting lawyer “adviser,” listened to Starbucks Workers United workers and reps for six minutes—and then walked out.

As a result, the Oct. 27 session of the talks, which included workers from at least five unionized Starbucks stores, never got off the ground.

Facing a mountain of criticism for refusing to talk with its workers—who have unionized at 250 stores and counting—Starbucks reversed course and declared it would bargain with workers from the first five unionized stores during a set period of time in October.

The workers, their grass-roots organizations, and Starbucks Workers United, the Service Employees sector which backs them with advice, lawyers, and some staff, accepted. The workers then started formulating bargaining proposals and posted them online.

The proposals symbolize the demands of the gathering mass movement of low-wage workers, most in their 20s and 30s, who have had it up to here with corporate exploitation. Others include Apple workers, Amazon workers, adjunct professors, and port truckers.

When the session began, Starbucks bosses and their unidentified union-buster sat on one side of the table, the workers on the other, and Starbucks workers from around the country tuned in via Zoom. That pissed off the bosses and the union-buster most of all.

Led by him, they called a caucus after six minutes of meeting, left, and never returned.

“The most recent CBA bargaining between SBWU and Starbucks was conducted in a hybrid format, with no complaints from the company. Today, workers finally got the company to the table at *5* locations, and SBUX suddenly takes issue with the format and walks out,” Starbucks worker/bargainer Daisy Pitkin tweeted.

“Starbucks is now refusing to bargain—or even listen to our proposals—because a few workers are joining the session virtually.”

Starbucks worker Mason Boykin tweeted Starbucks didn’t restrict its own Seattle-based executives from working via Zoom during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, Starbucks workers were either laid off or forced to work, despite the modern-day plague.

“I bet these lawyers and Starbucks corporate executives got to work from home all throughout the pandemic and Zoom’d in for safety and accessibility. It shows the company only cares about those they deem worthy of keeping safe/providing accessibility to.”

Meanwhile, workers at another metropolitan Chicago Starbucks, at 2870 Willow Road in Glenview, officially told Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz they want to unionize, too. In their letter, the workers, who toil at “one of the busiest stores in the (Chicago) district,” told of massive turnover among new hires and mass quitting by higher-level workers.

Among the reasons: Nine straight hours per shift on their feet, up to 116 customers in a half-hour, constant screaming from some, and little time to learn Starbucks’s thousands of drink permutations and ingredient recipes. “We teach to a Starbucks standard, and we know it is unattainable,” they wrote.



Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.