Starbucks criticizes Biden’s visit to union leaders, demands White House meeting

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on economic growth, jobs and deficit reduction in the Roosevelt Room on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

Demetrius Freeman | Washington Post | beautiful pictures

Starbucks is asking the White House to hold a meeting after President Joe Biden met with an organizer who was helping their coffee shops consolidate.

The President met with 39 national labor leaders on Thursday, including Christian Smalls, who led Amazon Union, and Laura Garza, a union leader at Starbucks’ New York City Roastery. Biden has been a strong supporter of unions, from the campaign to his time in the Oval Office, during a time when senior workers worked at companies like Amazon, Apple and Conde Nast are making headlines.

AJ Jones, Starbucks’ head of global communications and public affairs, wrote in a letter Thursday that the decision not to invite any representatives from the company is deeply troubling.

“We believe this lack of representation understates the fact that the majority of our partners oppose membership of a union and the union tactics being deployed by United Workers” , Jones wrote in the letter to Steve Ricchetti, one of Biden’s closest advisers. “As you know, American workers have the absolute right to decide for themselves whether to incorporate, or not to union, without any influence.”

As of Wednesday, six Starbucks locations voted against merging. However, bartenders at more than 50 Starbucks cafes across the US have voted in favor of unionization under Workers over the past six months. About 200 cafes are still waiting for their elections or to hear their votes counted.

Jones requested a meeting at the White House for an opportunity to introduce the Biden administration to workers whose views differ from unions. A representative for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Starbucks is running a campaign to limit the spread of co-op in its coffee shops. United workers have filed more than 100 unfair employment complaints against the company, alleging retaliation and unlawful harassment. The National Labor Relations Board has filed at least three lawsuits against Starbucks. The company has denied those claims but has filed two complaints of its own against the Union Company.

On Tuesdays, Starbucks said it will spend $1 billion in fiscal year 2022 about investments in its stores and workers. Those investments include another pay rise for term employees, double training for new workers, and plans to add tips for debit and credit card users.

“These benefits, including the ones we’ve been asking for since the start of the campaign, are a response to our organizational efforts and we should honor the hard work that the partners stood up [CEO] Organizers Starbucks Workers United said in a statement to CNBC on Tuesday.

Schultz himself has publicly flirted with running for president as an independent in the run-up to the 2020 election.

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