From former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to Laxman Narasimhan, the new chief, the habit of warring with its store employees has not gone away. Narasimhan believes he can win over employees by working in stores once a month, which is among the most outrageous comments made by an American CEO this year. (Customers are abandoning these 25 brands.)
“The past six months of my immersion into the company have been shaped by so many of you who have taught me about our very special culture at Starbucks,” Narasimhan recently wrote. He did not mention some employees do not want him in the stores at all. They are angered by low pay, particularly from an unbelievably rich company.
The latest round of bickering has been over an odd issue. According to Reuters, “Starbucks Workers United, which represents thousands of U.S. baristas at about 200 cafes, conducted unauthorized virtual broadcasts of bargaining sessions without prior agreement from all parties.” Who exactly was harmed by the practice and in what way? Starbucks’ answer is that it wants representatives physically in the room for any and all talks.
Starbucks’ union problem extends to the National Labor Relations Board’s assertion that management had fired workers when it should not have and has negotiated in bad faith. The situation has boiled to the level that Schultz has been ordered to testify before Congress.
Starbucks had revenue of over $32 billion last year, on which it had $3.3 billion in net income. Starbucks pays its workers at least $15 an hour, which is barely a living wage. The coffee chain claims it offers good benefits. Compared to some other chains, this is accurate. However, Narasimhan makes more when he takes his turn as an in-store worker.
Starbucks will battle unions as long as it can. Over time, it may keep some parts of the United States from having union workers. For the time being, it is losing that fight.
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