Starbucks CEO: Unionization Would Hamper ‘Direct Relationship’ with Employees

by Michael Freeman

Last month, Starbucks restaurants in upstate New York saw their employees push for unionization. Amid these efforts, the chain’s CEO addressed it, saying doing so would hamper its “direct relationship” with employees.

The efforts began in November, and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued another statement on them yesterday. In it, he claimed such unionization could hurt its relationship with employees.

“It goes against having that direct relationship with our partners that has served us so well for decades and allowed us to build this great company,” Johnson said, referring to the company’s employees, according to Fox News.

The coffee chain’s employees, on the other hand, feel very differently. Baristas in New York’s second-largest city will conclude voting on Wednesday about whether to unionize under Workers United Upstate New York. Workers are seeking better staffing, training, and pay. Additionally, they want the ability to work out their pay and benefits with the company directly.

Michael Eisen, a barista in Buffalo, is helping with union efforts. He stated what they’re doing is in line with Starbucks’ own core mission. “One of the values that Starbucks has as its core mission and value statement is challenging the status quo, and that’s what we’re doing to try to make things better.”

Regardless of the outcome, Johnson said he would respect the outcome and the unionization process. Nevertheless, the company’s own executives have spent the past few weeks urging employees to vote against the union. The company also sent out a text message to workers a few days ago. It urged them to “Please vote and vote no to protect what you love about Starbucks.”

Roughly 100 workers across three stores are eligible to vote, so we’ll see tomorrow how things fare.

Starbucks Also Faced Supply Shortages This Year

Employees feeling undervalued isn’t the only high-profile issue Starbucks has seen this year. Back in June, the company reported having supply shortages which have persisted for months now.

A coffee chain facing a shortage of coffee, sweet cream, and white mocha isn’t exactly a good look, but it couldn’t be helped. The New York Times reported the issue, as well as a statement a Starbucks spokesperson gave regarding the trouble.

“We are experiencing temporary supply shortages of some of our products,” the spokesperson said through an email. “Specific items will vary by market and store, and some stores will experience outages of various items at the same time. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working quickly and closely with our supply chain vendors to restock items as soon as possible.”

Numerous customers reported shortages of quite a few meals. Some even said restaurants lacked “every food item.” Though the shortages were labeled “temporary,” many stores still report issues on restocking.