Starbucks investors are pushing to review the company’s relationship with union activity

A coalition of Starbucks Corp. investors has filed a shareholder proposal calling for a third-party review of the company’s commitment to workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, citing multiple allegations that the company has interfered with those rights.

“There is a clear misalignment between Starbucks’ public commitment and its reported conduct,” the investors, led by a New York City pension fund, said in the proposal. For example, the National Labor Relations Board’s regional offices have filed at least 20 complaints against Starbucks SBUX, he said.
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Hundreds of cases of labor rights violations have been filed: sit-in meetings, surveillance, retaliation, intimidation and firing, as well as withholding wages and benefits from unionized workers.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said in a news release: “Companies put their reputations on the line when they blatantly disregard and oppose their workers’ basic right to organize. “For a company as focused on the customer experience as Starbucks, continued interference in labor organizing damages its brand, which is essential to its success.”

Also cited in the proposal: Last month, Starbucks’ interim CEO Howard Schultz was ordered to read a notice to employees saying they were illegally denied benefits and raises. Also last month, a judge upheld seven Memphis, Tenn., workers the company fired for supporting a union campaign.

Trillium ESG Global Equity Fund is a shareholder proposal partner. In March, Trillium Asset Management joined Lander and a group of more than 75 shareholders in writing the second-ever letter to the company’s handling of union activity – to Starbucks. At the time, at least 120 stores had filed to vote for unionization. Now, more than 200 stores have voted to unionize, according to Starbucks Worders United.

At the time, a Starbucks spokesperson denied the union’s allegations. The company has taken a position that it consistently prefers to engage with its employees and elects them directly, not through unions, which executives reiterated at the company’s investor day last week — as part of a broader plan to boost employee benefits. to renovate their shops.

A Starbucks spokeswoman said Monday night that the company “routinely” engages with investors when proposals are presented, and that “we look forward to sharing facts about our company and our partners (employees) in those engagements.” He reiterated the company’s position that it prefers to work “side by side rather than at the bargaining table” with workers.

The proposal by the coffee chain was announced earlier this month by Apple Inc. AAPL follows a similar logic;
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As workers at retail stores began organizing, the tech giant was accused of unfair labor practices, and a proposal for an independent review of its commitment to free association and collective bargaining rights was led by a New York City pension fund. .

See: Is Apple Committed to Workers’ Right to Organize? Investors want to know

Additional co-filers in the Starbucks stockholder proposal were Retirement and Investment Research Advisors, representing pension fund clients, and The Kathryn Donnelly Foundation, a stock association research and education organization. The investor group As of June 30, he owned more than $163 million worth of Starbucks stock, according to the news release.

as well as: Unions’ push against Amazon, Apple and Starbucks could be ‘the most important moment in the US labor movement’ in decades.

This story has been updated to add Starbucks’ comment.

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