SEIU 1021

Starbucks workers coast to coast wage major protest day before annual shareholder meeting as pressure mounts over company’s illegal union busting


The eve of Starbucks’ annual shareholder meeting, the company’s workers held actions across the country, including Berkeley, Santa Clara, Mill Valley, El Dorado Hills, San Pablo, and more across Northern California. They are demanding fundamental rights like livable wages, consistent scheduling, safe and respectful workplaces, and the right to organize free from fear and intimidation.

The nationwide actions were held simultaneously with workers marching outside the company’s Seattle headquarters. They declared that their fight for the right to organize will not be stopped by union-busting former CEO Howard Schultz, whose law-breaking is under increased scrutiny. 

Wednesday’s day of action also served to welcome the company’s new chief executive, Laxman Narasimhan, and send him a message that the transition in the C-suite provides an opportunity for the company to stop its union busting. They invited him to instead partner with workers and their union to build a company that truly lives up to its stated progressive values.

“Starbucks baristas like me are the ones who keep our stores running. We remember our customers’ regular orders, make the lattes, clean up spills, and are often the bright spot of our customers’ days. We are the heart and soul of Starbucks,” said Sarah Pappin, a member of Starbucks Workers United. “Instead of celebrating the law-breaking former CEO hell-bent on silencing us, Starbucks should respect our right to organize and meet us at the bargaining table. We are Starbucks, and we deserve better.” 

The protest comes just one week before former CEO Howard Shultz is set to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) about the illegal anti-union bullying campaign he spearheaded. That has included numerous labor law violations, according to several National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judges. Schultz only agreed to testify under threat of subpoena from HELP Committee Chair Bernie Sanders, the U.S. Senator from Vermont.

Since December 2021, more than 7,500 Starbucks workers have organized unions at over 280 stores, demanding the corporation respect workers’ fundamental right to organize and bargain a fair contract.

At the same time, the NLRB’s regional offices have issued more than 80 official complaints against Starbucks, prosecuting the company for over 1,400 specific alleged violations of federal labor law, including accusations that former CEO Howard Schultz personally threatened a worker who expressed support for organizing.

To date, NLRB administrative law judges have issued nine decisions, eight of which collectively found that the company has committed 130 violations, including illegal monitoring and firing organizers, calling the police on workers, and outright closing a store that recently attempted to organize.

The March 22 day of action was the latest in a wave of activity aiming to hold Starbucks accountable to the progressive values it publicly purports to champion.