In December of 2021, the first company-owned American Starbucks store voted in favor of unionization. In the near two-and-a-half years since then, the number of union stores has increased to over 400, representing over 10,000 workers. And zero union contract ratifications.

That may all be changing soon. The company has agreed to sit down with representatives from Starbucks Workers United to begin building a framework for union contracts for the unionized stores.

It has been a tumultuous two-plus years for the two entities. The National Labor Relations Board has alleged over two hundred labor violations by Starbucks on behalf of the union. There have been strikes and lawsuits and store closings as alleged retaliation. Starbucks has withheld increased benefits packages and pay raises from union stores, and has excluded them from competing in the company’s upcoming North American Barista Championship. While Starbucks maintains they are bargaining in good faith, the NLRB’s allegations suggest a different approach since the first unionization vote in Buffalo, New York.

advert new rules of coffee now available


Huffington Post’s Dave Jamieson reports an imminent turning point in relations between Starbucks and Workers United. The two sides have agreed to sit down and begin working on union contracts in earnest, scheduled to take place in late April. What comes out of these talks, in theory at least, will be the foundations for the 400+ store-level contracts, which will each have to be individually approved by their respective union members.

As part of the negotiations, Workers United seek to secure for its workers a base hourly rate of $20, more time off, consistent scheduling, and a “fair process for organizing stores.”

Starbucks’ position on labor relations appears to have changed significantly with the shift in leadership. As Huffington Post notes, former CEO Howard Schultz was staunchly anti-union, going so far as to say that he would “never embrace a union.” New CEO Laxman Narasimhan has expressed a desire for a “fresh start” in union relations, and a recent letter to employees from a top HR officer states that the company is committed to “restitching the fabric of the green apron for all partners at Starbucks.”

The meeting’s exact time and place are still pending, but it signals a shift in Starbucks’ union negotiation tactics. And a positive one at that. Perhaps soon, after years of attempts and delays, the first Starbucks union contract may be ratified.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.