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Huge Breakthrough Declared by Starbucks Workers Union as Company Vows Good-Faith Bargaining

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It’s about damned time. In what Starbucks Workers United is calling a “huge” breakthrough, the company has agreed to begin talks on a framework for achieving contracts in stores where workers have chosen to unionize and for developing “a fair process for organizing.”

Since workers organized the first Starbucks store in Buffalo in 2021, nearly 10,000 baristas have organized unions at nearly 400 stores, including several in Texas. But not one has been able to negotiate with a management that trotted out the anti-union playbook from Day 1. The company spent nearly $250 million on union-busting, according to an estimate from the Strategic Organizing Center, and deployed over 100 lawyers from notorious anti-union law firm Littler-Mendelson. 

Despite the deluge, Starbucks workers stood together and refused to back down. The amazing solidarity that kept the union strong despite all the incoming attacks a corporation can offer under outdated labor laws is responsible for this week’s dramatic change in tone.

The union quotes this company statement: "We have agreed with Workers United that we will begin discussions on a foundational framework designed to achieve collective bargaining agreements, including a fair process for organizing, and the resolution of some outstanding litigation.”

The union also reports the company, “as a sign of good faith,” has agreed to provide credit card tipping and other benefits announced in May 2022 but not implemented as organizing accelerated. 

There are some imponderables here, including what spurred the company’s change of heart. But clear as day, workers rose up, workers formed a union, workers persisted through the storm, and, with an appropriate recognition that much work lies ahead, workers triumphed. 

The entire labor movement should hold Starbucks to its promise of good-faith bargaining toward a fair contract. Texas labor has stood in solidarity with Starbucks workers from the beginning, and will continue to do so as they embark on these next steps.

As for SWU, let’s inaugurate the Bartholomew Cubbins hat tip (or hats tip: he had 500 of them) to the union for its historic organizing and its major role in a renaissance for U.S. labor unions. The horizon for much more organizing by baristas just got a whole lot sunnier.

Read the union's announcement here: