Starbucks is reportedly weighing better benefits for non-union workers

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz is speaking at the annual meeting of shareholders in Seattle, Washington on March 22, 2017.

Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images

The Starbucks campaign could expand new benefits for non-union workers exclusively to prevent barristers from uniting, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The company’s CEO, Howard Schultz, told U.S. store leaders this week that he was reviewing coffee chain benefit programs for his employees, the journal reported. However, employees who work in company-owned stores who have voted to unionize will be ineligible for those improved benefits, according to the Schultz report.

Schultz, citing federal labor law and the company’s legal advice, said it would be illegal to unilaterally increase benefits with a unified position in the equation, the journal reported.

Under federal labor law, employers are required to negotiate with the union representing their workers when it comes to changes in their employment compensation, benefits or other terms. However, companies can still ask union workers if they want additional benefits.

For example, US airlines are highly unionized and they have offered union workers bonuses or extra pay for staffing deficits, incentives that fall outside the regular contract negotiations.

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

In late March, before Schultz’s return to the company, Starbucks Workers United said they expected the company to announce new benefits to prevent Union Push from spreading across Starbucks cafes. A Starbucks representative did not respond to a request for comment at the time, but Schultz apparently confirmed the strategy when he announced last week that he would suspend stock buybacks to invest in the company’s employees and stores.

About 200 of the Starbucks company-owned positions have filed for unionization in recent months. To date, 18 store workers have voted in favor of uniting under United, with only one cafe voting against so far.

In a bid to speed up the union, Workers United has accused the organization of engaging in union-related activities, including firing on organizers, spending hours in barricades and other forms of retaliation. In March, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Starbucks, alleging that it violated federal labor laws by shooting organizers at a location in Phoenix.

In his week and a half leading the company, Schultz is already campaigning more aggressively against the union than former CEO Kevin Johnson. Schultz referred to unions in public correspondence and in speeches with workers, depicting the pressure to organize as divisive and unnecessary.

“And while not all of the partners who support unionization are collaborating with outside union forces, the important thing is that I do not believe in conflicts, divisions and divisions – which were central to organizing the union – to the benefit of Starbucks or our partners,” he wrote on Sunday. Letter.

Shares of Starbucks rose more than 1% in trading on Wednesday afternoon, along with broader market gains. The market value of the company is about $ 93.3 billion.

Read the journal’s report on Schultz’s strategy for coping with union push.

– Leslie Josephus of CNBC contributed to this report.

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