Discussion of Starbucks Chief, Howard Schultz, Non-Union Staff Benefits

Starbucks interim chief executive Howard Schultz told a weekly meeting of store managers on Monday that the benefits he was considering expanding to non-union workers would not immediately apply to the company’s newly unionized workers.

The announcement comes just one week after Mr Schultz’s third visit as chief executive, after workers at at least 16 company-owned stores voted to unionize in the last six months, although the National Labor Relations Board has not yet ratified all the results. .

Since Mr. Schultz’s return as chief executive, Starbucks has fired at least three union supporters who, a spokesman said, violated company policy. Mr Schultz also postponed stock repurchases to give the company “the opportunity to invest more in our partners and stores,” he said in a letter to staff on Sunday, and he met with employees in various cities to ask for their views. Improving the company.

The two appearances became controversial when Mr. Schultz confronted pro-union workers.

A Starbucks spokesman said comments about the benefits at Monday’s meeting arose during a question-and-answer session when Mr Schultz was asked how the company was considering new benefits in line with the union’s promotion.

The spokesman explained to Mr. Schultz that the chief executive responded by introducing a benefit, saying, “We are not allowed by law to give the benefit unilaterally to stores that have voted for the union in a bargaining chip.”

The spokesman said the issue arose from employee input in a recent session with Mr. Schultz and did not provide an example of the benefits Starbucks chief is considering or when they may be offered.

The remarks were made in a report in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Labor law experts say companies were allowed to discuss the differences between union and non-union benefits, but they did not make an underlying promise that employees would benefit better if they chose not to unionize.

Matthew Body, a former Labor board lawyer who teaches law at St. Louis University, said the comments could be interpreted as undermining so-called laboratory conditions required for the next union election if they were made public, if not necessarily. Expecting to remain confidential. Mr Body said the comments could still be evidence of intent to bargain in bad faith by trying to give union workers a worse deal than non-union workers, which is considered an unfair labor practice.

Wilma Liebman, a former chairperson of the National Labor Relations Board, said the potential benefits were questionable at the time, as it was unclear whether they would be added to the union’s campaign.

Although it is difficult to know for sure whether Mr. Schultz crossed a legal line without reviewing his specific comments, which the company did not provide, the spokesman said Mr. Schultz only stated the requirements of the law.

Mr. Schultz has spoken out against his union. In his letter on Sunday, he suggested that many employees who supported unionization were “collaborating with outside union forces” and wrote that he did not believe that “conflicts, divisions and divisions – which were central to organizing unions – were Starbucks or our benefits partners.” “

He added that less than 1 percent of the 200,000 Starbucks employees in the United States voted in favor of unions, and that about 65 percent of eligible employees did not participate in union elections.

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