Starbucks criticizes Biden’s visit with union leaders, asking for a meeting in the White House

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

Demetrius Freeman | The Washington Post | Getty pictures

Starbucks is asking the White House for a meeting after President Joe Biden met with an organizer to help organize their coffee shops.

The president met with 39 national labor leaders Thursday, including Christian Smalls, who heads the Amazon Labor Union, and Laura Garza, a union leader at Starbucks̵[ads1]7; New York City Roastery. Biden has been a vocal supporter of unions, from the campaign track to his time in the Oval Office, at a time when high-profile work efforts at companies such as Amazon, Apple and Conde Nast are making headlines.

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

“We believe this lack of representation rejects the reality that the majority of our partners oppose being members of a union and the union tactics used by Workers United,” Jones wrote in a letter to Steve Ricchetti, one of Biden’s closest advisers. “As you know, American workers have the absolute right to decide whether or not they want to organize in unions without undue influence.”

As of Wednesday, six Starbucks locations have voted against the union. But baristas at more than 50 Starbucks cafes across the United States have been voting for a union under Workers United for the past six months. Around 200 cafes are still waiting for elections or to hear the votes count.

Jones requested a meeting of the White House for the opportunity to introduce Biden’s administration to workers who have different perspectives than the union. A White House official did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Starbucks is running a campaign to curb the proliferation of unions across its coffee shops. Workers United has filed more than 100 unfair work practice complaints against the company, alleging unlawful retaliation and harassment. The National Labor Relations Board has filed at least three lawsuits against Starbucks. The company has denied these allegations, but has filed two of its own complaints against Workers United.

On Tuesday, Starbucks said it would spend $ 1 billion in fiscal year 2022 on investments in its stores and workers. These investments include another pay rise for permanent employees, doubling training for new workers and plans to add tipping for debit and credit card users.

“These benefits, including those we’ve been demanding since the start of our campaign, are a response to our organizational efforts, and we should celebrate the hard work of partners who stood up to [CEO] Howard Schultz’s bullying set in to do this, “Starbucks Workers United Organizing Committee said in a statement to CNBC on Tuesday.” Many of the proposed benefits have been proposed at the Buffalo negotiating table. “

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

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