Pingree, 30 Members of Congress Urge New Starbucks CEO to Embrace Unionizing Stores
Washington, October 4, 2022
Following reports that increased pay and benefits were withheld from actively unionizing Starbucks employees nationwide, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and 30 of her Congressional colleagues are urging the multi-billion-dollar
“As workers renegotiate the compact between employee and employer across workplaces nationwide, we encourage both parties to work together, mend differences and unite to help build an economy that works for everyone,” members wrote.
In the letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, led by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), lawmakers said the reported discrimination against unionizing employees “could set an alarming precedent that, in our opinion, is not consistent with U.S. labor laws, including the National Labor Relations Act.”
The full letter is copied below and available online here.
Of the 9,000 Starbucks locations nationwide, 242 have unionized. In July, the Starbucks in Biddeford became the first Maine location to unionize. Workers at the Starbucks on the corner of Middle and Exchange Streets in Portland are organizing to become the second unionized location in Maine, citing pay and safety concerns.
In addition to Starbucks, large corporations like Chipotle have been reported to be engaging in union-busting tactics across the country, including Maine. In June, Chipotle in Augusta became the first store to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking representation; less than a month later, Chipotle abruptly announced that it was closing the store. Pingree condemned these potentially illegal union-busting tactics and called for the NLRB to investigate.
In September, Pingree called attention to the potentially illegal union-busting tactics in Maine by Chipotle and Starbucks in a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on removing barriers to organizing. At Pingree’s urging, fellow New England Representative Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) raised her concerns, asking former NLRB Chair Mark Pearce for insight into how the NLRB can respond to these types of incidents.
In 2021, Pingree cosponsored and helped the House pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the most comprehensive pro-labor legislation in decades.
Dear Mr. Schultz,
We, as Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, write with great concern regarding recent reports filed by the National Labor Relations Board stating Starbucks withheld pay and an increase in benefits from workers actively unionizing across 242 stores nationwide. As workers renegotiate the compact between employee and employer across workplaces nationwide, we encourage both parties to work together, mend differences and unite to help build an economy that works for everyone.
The country welcomed Starbucks' announcement of $200 million in added worker pay and benefits at a moment when American workers are struggling to make ends meet. In addition, we believe efforts by Starbucks to increase pay and benefits, including training, career development opportunities, enhanced tipping and other benefits are necessary tenets to investing in and retaining a strong workforce.
However, we have a concern about reports that pay increases and benefits are only being offered to non-unionized stores. If accurate, such disparate treatment could set an alarming precedent that, in our opinion, is not consistent with U.S. labor laws, including the National Labor Relations Act.
As elected representatives, our conviction is that a fair relationship between an employee and an employer is key to a strong and resilient American economy, and we support legislation that encourages these policies. We hope you give our concerns your full and fair consideration.