Starbucks announced on Tuesday that it is raising wages for its employees and offering a number of new benefits only to workers in stores that aren’t unionized or in a union drive – a move that is potentially illegal.
The company will increase its wages to $15 an hour or a 3 percent increase for non-union employees. These changes were previously announcedWhen the union drive was still in its early stages last year.
Currently, About 63 percentAccording to data from Economic Policy Institute, 15% of Starbucks employees earn below $15 an hour. It’s unclear how that percentage will change with union members and unionizing workers excluded from the pay raise.
CEO Howard Schultz said in an investor call that the exclusionary pay increases are “investments” that “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,” or employees.
The company claims that it can’t make changes to unionizing workers’ pay during the union drive, but Starbucks Workers United says that it’s actually illegal for the company to exclude unionizing workers from new benefits.
“We have filed charges against Howard Schultz’s threats that union stores won’t receive these benefits. That’s not how labor law works and Starbucks knows it,” the union wrote on Twitter.
A union campaign is supposed to be conducted in “laboratory conditions,” meaning that a union drive needs to be conducted in “conditions as nearly ideal as possible” in order to “determine the uninhibited desires of the employees,” according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Workers who are not part of a union drive might be forced to stop organizing or vote against the union by having their wages raised.
“If Starbucks said, ‘Drop the union campaign and you’ll get this wage increase and better benefits,’ that’d clearly be illegal,” Matthew Bodie, a former NLRB lawyer and law professor at Saint Louis University, told the New York Times. “Hard to see how this is that much different in practice.” Bodie added that these pay increases could also be in violation of the mandate for employers to bargain with unionizing workers in good faith.
If the NLRB validates the union’s charges that the selective raises are illegal, it wouldn’t be the first time that the labor board has found illegal conduct in Starbucks’s anti-union campaign. Last month, For instanceThe labor board found that the company had fired seven workers from Memphis, Tennessee, who were union members. Other charges against the company are also being brought by the NLRB It could be a result.The company could face legal consequences for its union-busting actions.
These benefits are not being offered by the union, says the union. “Congratulations to all the hard work of partners organizing at Starbucks – our campaign has pressured Howard Schultz and Starbucks to announce many of the benefits that we’ve been pushing for since day one and we’ve proposed at the bargaining table in Buffalo,” the union said.
Indeed, the union drive has been remarkable successful. As of Tuesday Starbucks Workers United has successfully unionized over 50 stores. The union has lost just five of its union votes thus far, with three more still in contention.
This is an average success rate of 85 percent with new victories almost every day. The union recently surpassed250 union petition filings in 36 states.
The workers make up a large part of the growing labor movement. Amazon workers and Starbucks workers will be involved in unionizing. head to the White HouseThursday, March 24, at 8:45 p.m. to meet with Kamala Harris, Vice President, and Marty Walsh Labor Secretary to discuss the labor movement. They will also discuss how workers can continue spreading union efforts to other sectors and companies.