Perennial Starbucks CEO and billionaire Howard D. Schultz has returned to run the company again. Presumably, part of the reason he has returned is to halt a move by U.S. employees to unionize. Should he fail, tens of thousands of the company’s workers could join unions. This would put Starbucks in a very difficult situation in which it may need to engage in collective bargaining across the country.
One of Schultz’s first moves was to kill the company’s share buybacks. In the announcement, he made a strange and overreaching comment: “I am returning to the company to work with all of you to design our next Starbucks — an evolution of our company deep with purpose, where we each have agency and where we work together to create a positive impact in the world.” This is a remarkable, albeit overreaching goal.
Schultz wants to focus on Starbucks workers and its stores. He might be better off doing two things: raising wages and pushing earnings to help reverse a flagging share price.
The lowest-paid Starbucks workers only make $15 an hour. The company said the average pay will rise to $17 this summer, according to The New York Times. The low pay rate remains critical to the company’s earnings. Is it any wonder that a push for employees to join unions has started to spread? The Starbucks reaction was too little too late. Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesperson, said, “Our storied success has come from our working directly together as partners, without a third party between us.” Presumably, Borges makes more than $15 an hour.
Another reason employees are upset about their current situation is that four Starbucks executives made over $5 million last year. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson made 1,579 times more than the company’s median worker’s pay.
Starbucks workers want a union because they need one.
Click here to see the 19 biggest labor strikes of 2021.
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