Gene J. Puskar/AP
Starbucks is increasing wages and benefits for most of its hourly workers in the United States after ending its fiscal year with record sales.
But the company said Monday that union workers would not be eligible for some of those benefits, a sign of ongoing tension between the Seattle coffee giant and the union that is trying to unionize its U.S. stores.
At least 366 Starbucks stores in the United States have voted to unionize since 2021, according to the National Labor Relations Board. But Starbucks and the Workers United union have yet to reach a labor agreement at any of those stores. Starbucks has 9,600 corporate stores in the United States
Starbucks announced Monday that it would raise wages — which currently average $17.50 an hour — starting Jan. 1. Union and non-union store employees who have worked four years or less will receive a 3% or 4% raise depending on years of service. .
Employees who have worked five years or more will be eligible for a 5% raise, but because this is a new benefit, it must be negotiated with Workers United and therefore is not available to unionized stores, a the company said.
Workers United rejected that claim and said it would file an unfair labor practice charge against Starbucks with the NLRB.
“Denying benefits to unionized stores is against the law,” the union said.
Starbucks said it would also reduce the hourly hours employees must work before accruing vacation days from a year to 90 days. This benefit is also only available to non-union store workers.
The company also announced a new North American Barista Championship open to employees in the United States and Canada. The company said the program also would not be offered to employees of unionized stores because it involves cash prizes and travel.
Starbucks’ actions fly in the face of a September ruling by an NLRB administrative law judge, who ruled the company acted illegally last fall by raising wages only for non-union workers. Starbucks appealed the decision, saying the NLRB’s standards do not allow employers to make unilateral changes to unionized employees’ wages or benefits.