Starbucks increases benefits for non-union workers

M’Niyah Lynn

Starbucks Corp. announced it would implement many new changes, with about $1 billion in total investments this fiscal year. Some of the investments, however, such as raised wages for employees, will exclude workers affiliated with the Starbucks Workers United union.

Starbucks said it would invest in its top priorities, like increasing pay, store innovation and modernizing training for employees, according to a press release. The investments are aimed at trying to recover from the pandemic.

“The investments will enable us to handle the increased demand and deliver increased profitability while also delivering an elevated experience to our customers and reducing strain on our partners,” Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ interim CEO, said in the press release.

Pay is one of the components drawing attention. A pay increase is expected for all U.S. store partners, but Starbucks said these benefits are not guaranteed to stores that have filed for or successfully unionized because it “lacks the right to unilaterally make these changes.” Schultz said these benefits have to be negotiated through a contract with the specific location.

“On August 1, average hourly pay at Starbucks will be nearly $17/hour nationally,” Schultz said in the press release. “All partners hired on or before May 2 will get either a 3% raise or $15/hour, whichever is higher.”

Tenured partners with two years to five years of experience will see at least a 5% increase, while those with more than five years of experience will see at least 7% jumps in wages.

Employees at unionized stores would only benefit from the wage hikes that were first announced last October. Over 230 stores have filed petitions for union elections, and about 50 stores have voted to unionize since December, according to NPR.

SBWU is not pleased with Schultz’s recent comments regarding Starbucks’ ability to extend the new benefits to stores with unions. The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in April, CNBC said.

“These benefits, including ones we’ve demanded since the beginning of our campaign, are a response to our organizing efforts and we should celebrate the hard work that partners who stood up to Howard Schultz’s bullying put in to make this happen,” the SBWU Organizing Committee told CNBC.

Starbucks defended its CEO, as Reggie Borges, a company spokesperson, told CNBC that the policy regarding unions “is the law” and not reflective of Schultz’s views.

Additionally, the release mentioned that Starbucks executives have been receiving responses from their workers about what they have endured due to the pandemic, including on-and-off jobs. While visiting locations and farms, Schultz was also given feedback about how to help the company.

Schultz returned as CEO in April, marking his third time assuming the role. He is filling in on an interim basis until a permanent replacement for the retired Kevin Johnson is found.

Starbucks plans to announce other benefits in September, including more training and student loan refinancing, according to Restaurant Business Magazine.

Starbuck shares have fallen 19% since Schultz returned, according to CNBC.