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Starbucks Shareholders Call for Impartial Investigation into Labor Rights

Starbucks shareholders are pushing for an unbiased review of the coffee giant's stance on its workers' unionization rights.

Starbucks sign
Starbucks sign

Shareholders Advocate for Independent Labor Rights Review

Four shareholders of Starbucks, including Trillium Asset Management and New York City's public pension funds, are asking the global coffee chain to enlist an impartial law firm to evaluate its respect for workers' unionization rights. The shareholders expressed this in a letter seen by Reuters on Thursday.

Shareholders and CEO Discuss Unionization Review

Last month, these shareholders met with Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan to discuss the review subject. The world's largest coffee chain, Starbucks, has been under the microscope of its shareholders and the U.S. Congress recently due to its labor practices. Employees across its U.S. stores have been forming unions, which has sparked the interest.

Starbucks' Labor Practices Review Delayed

Originally set to conclude the review earlier, the Seattle-based company has postponed its completion date to the end of 2023, extending it by around three months.

Unionization and Labor Disputes in Starbucks

Since late 2021, approximately 300 Starbucks cafes in the United States have unionized, a significant change for the company that remained union-free for many years. Moreover, over 540 complaints have been filed against Starbucks with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board, with allegations of illicit labor practices like terminating union supporters, spying on employees, and shutting down stores during labor campaigns.

Starbucks Denies Allegations, Shares Increase

In response to these allegations, Starbucks has categorically denied any wrongdoing, stating that it provides its employees competitive wages and benefits while respecting their rights under federal labor law. On the day the shareholders' letter was made public, Starbucks' shares saw a 0.5% rise.

Shareholders Urge for Unbiased Assessor in Union Negotiations

In their letter, shareholders called upon Starbucks to choose an assessor with no track record of "union avoidance" activities for the review. They specifically pointed out Littler Mendelson, the law firm currently utilized by Starbucks for its union negotiations, as an example of what to avoid.

Starbucks Spokesperson Unavailable for Comment

As of the time of the report, no comment was immediately available from a Starbucks spokesperson.