Starbucks employees in Boston are pursuing unionization in the wake of successful efforts in Buffalo.
As The Daily Wire reported last week, the drive for unionization in Buffalo presented headaches for Starbucks executives, who rushed to the city in order to garnish the favor of employees. The trend toward collective bargaining appears to be spreading among Starbucks restaurants across the United States, however.
The New York Times explained:
Days after Starbucks employees in Buffalo formed the only union at a company-owned store in the United States, workers at two Boston-area Starbucks filed for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board. The filing, which was made on Monday, suggested that the victory in Buffalo could lead to a wider unionization push by employees, known as partners, at the nearly 9,000 stores owned by the company nationwide. …
The workers are seeking to join Workers United, an affiliate of the giant Service Employees International Union, which also represents the newly unionized employees in Buffalo …
Workers at the two Boston-area stores began circulating union cards shortly after the Buffalo results were announced, according to two of the workers. They are seeking to hold two elections — one at each store.
“We believe that there can be no true partnership without power-sharing and accountability,” the workers said in a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, according to The New York Times. “We are organizing a union in Boston because we believe that this is the best way to contribute meaningfully to our partnership with the company.”
Many of the Buffalo workers who voted in favor of unionization cited understaffing and poor training — problems affecting virtually every labor-intensive business in the United States. As CNBC recently summarized, worker shortages are tampering with restaurant chains’ profitability:
Restaurant executives have painted a bleak picture of staffing challenges to investors on their earnings calls in the last two weeks. CEOs like Domino’s Pizza’s Ritch Allison, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Brian Niccol and McDonald’s Chris Kempczinski shared details on how eateries have shortened hours, restricted ordering methods and lost out on sales because they can’t find enough workers. Some chains have been hit harder by the labor crunch, like Restaurant Brands International’s Popeyes, which saw about 40% of its dining rooms closed due to understaffing.
CNBC added that many companies — including Starbucks — are now hiking wages to attract and retain workers:
Raising wages is one popular approach to staffing problems, although it isn’t a perfect solution. McDonald’s wages at its franchised restaurants have risen roughly 10% so far this year as part of an effort to attract workers. Higher labor costs have led to increased menu prices, which are up about 6% from a year ago, according to McDonald’s executives.
Starbucks plans to spend roughly $1 billion in fiscal 2021 and 2022 on improving benefits for its baristas, including two planned wage hikes. The decision reduced its earnings forecast for fiscal 2022, disappointing investors and shaving off $8 billion in market cap.
Nearly 20% of economists recently surveyed by The Wall Street Journal identified labor shortages as the primary threat to economic growth in the United States. Others mentioned pervasive supply chain bottlenecks limiting access to many consumer goods.