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Starbucks to raise wages for some union workers as it thaws its relationship with Workers United

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A Starbucks logo is seen as members and supporters of Starbucks Workers United demonstrate outside a Starbucks store in Dupont Circle, Washington, DC, November 16, 2023.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Starbucks unionized cafe workers will receive the wage increases their non-union colleagues received for the first time May 2022a key step as the coffee giant and the union representing some baristas signaled Tuesday they were working to end the impasse over negotiations.

The pay increases are a sign of good faith from Starbucks toward Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union that has organized more than 300 company-owned Starbucks locations.

The parties jointly announced Tuesday afternoon that they had found a “constructive path forward” during mediation discussions last week. The talks were part of a dispute over Workers United’s use of the Starbucks brand, sparked by a post on social media site X from the union’s account in support of the Palestinians.

Starbucks and Workers United said they agreed to begin discussions “on a fundamental framework” on how to reach collective bargaining agreements for the stores. This announcement marks the most notable thaw in relations between the two parties since the unionization of the first Starbucks location in December 2021.

If Starbucks follows through on its commitment to raise union cafe wages, employees who have been with the company for two to five years will either receive a 5% raise or be paid 5% above the market starting rate, according to the highest amount. Workers with more than five years of tenure will receive a 7% raise or earn 10% more than the market starting rate, whichever is greater.

The coffee chain implemented wage increases in May 2022 under former CEO Howard Schultz, who campaigned aggressively against the union and faced backlash from the organization , politicians and customers for this strategy. The current CEO, Laxman Narasimhan, has been in this position for almost a year.

Starbucks also announced Tuesday that it would offer unionized coffee shops credit card tips, a benefit that has been available at nonunion stores for more than a year.

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