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Why The Worsening Economy Could Impact Starbucks' Union Efforts
Starbucks announced in September 2022 that they were finally ready to begin union contract negotiations in a three-week bargaining period with all 238 thus-far unionized stores nationwide, starting in October. Despite earlier victories for the Starbucks Workers Union, the Union seems to be getting some push-back, not from the company, but from a worsening economy.
Financial analysts predict a recession in 2023, which could put pro-union baristas in danger of getting fired by retaliating employers. California Starbucks barista trainer Tyler Keeling says, "People are seeing that Starbucks is willing [to] mess with their livelihood to prevent this union,” “But [...] as far as it is driving people not to organize, it's also driving people to organize."
In a post-pandemic world in 2021, a workers-rights movement emerged across the service industry, forcing employers to incentivize their employees to stick around. Illinois Restaurant Association chairman Sam Sanchez says the cost of labor increased by 30%, which may seem like a win for laborers, but an economic recession could change things considerably.
Various studies have found that recessions consistently affect the functionality and public approval of unions, as well as their bargaining power. However, Catherine Creighton, director of Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations Buffalo branch, thinks employees shouldn’t worry yet "because employers are still having a really hard time filling jobs.”