Starbucks and Workers United are making progress in negotiations

A Starbucks employee boards the Starbucks union bus after Starbucks workers stood in solidarity with striking SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America (WGA) members outside Netflix studios on July 28, 2023 in Los Angeles, California .

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Starbucks and Workers United, which represents about 500 of its cafes, said Friday they have made “significant progress” in their contract talks this week.

The two sides discussed a process to resolve complaints, details regarding union representation of Starbucks baristas and other topics Wednesday and Thursday in Atlanta.

The two-day session marked the first time in nearly a year that Starbucks and Workers United sat at the bargaining table. It followed an announcement in February that the two sides were ending their bitter standoff.

The coffee giant has been fighting the union, which is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, for more than two years. Workers United has broadly pushed for higher wages and more consistent scheduling, among a range of other priorities.

This week's talks are the closest all unionized locations, which make up a small portion of Starbucks' overall U.S. footprint, have come to a collective bargaining agreement. Yet there is still a long way to go.

“There is still more to do, but we are committed to working together,” the two sides said in a joint statement.

Starbucks and the union plan to meet again in late May to continue working on the framework that will form the basis for each individual store contract. Individual stores will still have to negotiate and ratify their own contracts once that foundation is in place.

Labor laws do not require that the employer and the union reach a collective bargaining agreement, but only that both negotiate in good faith. After a year, employees who lose confidence in the union can petition to revoke certification, putting a ticking clock on negotiations.

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