By Heather Haddon
Starbucks Corp. Chief Executive Kevin Johnson said the formation of a union at some of the company’s cafes could disrupt the chain’s relationship with its workers, at a time when Starbucks seeks to expand its ranks of baristas.
In his first public comments on labor-organizing efforts in Starbucks’s Buffalo, N.Y., market , Mr. Johnson said a union could make the company less agile in responding to its workforce, something the company /zigman2/quotes/207508890/composite SBUX -2.39% said it has particularly focused on during the pandemic. The company has already moved to address concerns raised by the baristas in Buffalo, pledging better wages and increased staffing, he said.
“It goes against having that direct relationship with our partners that has served us so well for decades and allowed us to build this great company,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview Monday, referring to Starbucks employees.
On Wednesday, Starbucks baristas in New York’s second-largest city are slated to conclude voting on whether to unionize under Workers United Upstate New York, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. About 100 workers are eligible to vote across three stores in the 19-location market. Workers supporting the proposed Starbucks Workers United union say they are looking for better staffing, training and pay, particularly for employees who have been with the company for years. They also want the right to directly negotiate their pay and benefits with the company.
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