Starbucks slams Biden for meeting with barista union organizer

Starbucks slams Biden for meeting with barista union organizer

Starbucks slams Biden for meeting with barista union organizer

Starbucks is demanding equal time with President Biden after the White House invited a unionized barista to meet with senior administration officials, including the commander-in-chief.

Laura Garza, an employee who is among those leading Starbucks’ New York roastery workers’ organizing campaign, met with Biden at the White House on Thursday.

The president invited Garza and 38 other national labor organizers, including Christian Smalls, who led the first-ever successful unionization of workers at an Amazon plant in Staten Island earlier this year.

Labor organizers representing employees at blue-chip companies such as outdoor retailer REI and animation studio Titmouse also attended the meeting with Biden.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh called the meeting, but Biden showed up unannounced soon after, according to the White House.

Starbucks, which is now led by interim CEO Howard Schultz, has fiercely opposed efforts by its employees to unionize.

Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with dozens of national labor organizers at the White House on Thursday.
Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with dozens of national labor organizers at the White House on Thursday.
Photo of the White House via Twitter

In a letter to a top Biden adviser, Starbucks public relations chief AJ Jones criticized the White House for its “lack of representation” and noted that “the majority of our partners (employees) oppose membership in a union and the organizing tactics employed by United Workers.

“We have a radically more positive outlook for our partners and our company than Workers United,” Jones wrote.

“And our vision is based on listening, connecting, collaborating and engaging directly with our partners.”

Jones lobbied the White House to invite other Starbucks employees who oppose the organized labor campaign, which has so far resulted in successful unionization votes in 50 different locations across the country.

Biden, the pro-Labour president, shook hands with Christian Smalls, the leader of the successful organizing campaign at an Amazon factory in Staten Island.
Biden, the pro-Labour president, shook hands with Christian Smalls, the leader of the successful organizing campaign at an Amazon factory in Staten Island.

An estimated 200 more Starbucks restaurants must hold unionization votes or have the votes counted.

Schultz, who returned to lead the company last month following the retirement of former CEO Kevin Johnson, met with dozens of baristas and managers at numerous Starbucks locations across the country and urged to oppose unionization.

Earlier this week, Schultz announced increased wages and benefits for baristas, including higher hourly pay and increased training, though those benefits are not extended to employees who join unions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Starbucks is insisting that unionized workers bargain separately for increased benefits.

Starbucks management has sought to counter the rising tide of unionization among its employees.
Starbucks management has sought to counter the rising tide of unionization among its employees.
PA

The Starbucks Workers United organizing committee told CNBC: ‘These benefits, including those we have been calling for since the beginning of our campaign, are a response to our organizing efforts and we should celebrate the hard work of the partners who stood up for [CEO] The Howard Schultz bully was set up to make that happen.

“A lot of the proposed benefits were offered at the bargaining table in Buffalo.”

Schultz and other top Starbucks executives have accused pro-union baristas of using heavy-handed tactics such as bullying and intimidating co-workers to support the labor campaign. Union organizers deny this, instead accusing the company of illegal union busting.

According to the pro-worker news site More Perfect Union, Starbucks Workers United has filed more than 80 unfair labor practice complaints against the company.

Starbucks, which owns and operates some 9,000 locations across the United States, has been accused of firing pro-union baristas and berating other workers who have also been active in organized labor campaigning.

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