Howard Schultz offers insights on unionizations

Howard SchultzIt wasn’t always like it is now, but Starbucks has grown to become one of the top coffee businesses in the US.

The coffee business had a financial crisis in 2008 that devastated every other sector of the economy.

Former CEO of Starbucks from 1987 until 2000, Howard Schultz, had returned to assist the business.

He led Starbucks as CEO for over ten years until giving over the reins to Kevin Johnson, after being responsible for getting the business back on its feet.

Johnson did, however, leave the office in March 2022, which led to Schultz’s comeback.

He handled a rising unionization dilemma, another Starbucks crisis, last year.

An ominous sign for Starbucks

Howard Schultz spoke with CNN’s Poppy Harlow in February on the development of the union, its ties to China, and the American economy.

Schultz made it clear that the union’s efforts had nothing to do with his return to the company.

He did admit, however, that the labor movement was a preview of changes to come at Starbucks.

“It’s my belief that the efforts of unionization in America are in many ways a manifestation of a much bigger problem,” said Schultz.

“There is a macro issue here that is much, much bigger than Starbucks.”

Five months before his return, in December 2021, the first Starbucks chain to unionize cast a vote.

Moreover, Howard Schultz declared that he will serve as the company’s acting CEO for a third and last time.

Even so, Schultz was concerned about the unionization campaign before he returned to the business.

He addressed an open letter to the “partners,” the term the firm uses for its employees, a month before the first Starbucks chain voted.

“No partner has ever needed to have a representative seek to obtain things we all have as partners at Starbucks.”

“I am saddened and concerned to hear anyone thinks that is needed now.”

A fight for rights

Workers that are unionized continue to struggle for a number of reasons notwithstanding the letter, such as fixed schedules, preserving benefits for part-timers, and more.

The union also wants the business to formally adopt the fair election principles in order to safeguard employees’ freedom to organize without fear of reprisal.

Howard Schultz’s antipathy to the union has become stronger since resuming his duties as CEO.

The fight for unionization grew more heated during that time.

The corporation was accused by the union leadership of refusing to engage in formal negotiations, endangering their benefits, and engaging in union-busting tactics.

The claims have been refuted by Starbucks.

Charges from both sides

The union charged Starbucks with hundreds of unfair labor practices.

As a form of retaliation, the coffee company filed its own unfair labor charges against them, alleging that the union was impeding talks.

The NLRB discovered many instances when the business improperly intimidated and fired employees who were engaged in union activity.

Starbucks must discontinue the illegal practice of firing workers who support the union, according to a recent court ruling.

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The company contends that the action was unjustified and that it makes an effort to abide with the law.

Senator Bernie Sanders and members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee have requested testimony from Howard Schultz on the company’s adherence to labor rules for an upcoming hearing.

Starbucks’ chief public affairs officer AJ Jones II will attend the hearing as Schultz turned down the request.

The movement’s progress

In mid-February, the NLRB certified that 282 stores had voted in favor of unionization, while just 56 did not.

Just a small percentage of the nearly 9,3000 Starbucks chains run by American companies have opted to unionize.

The statistics show that most Starbucks partners are OK with the current state of affairs, according to Howard Schultz.

In any case, the union sees expansion as a show of support from the workforce.

“The fact that Starbucks workers are continuing to organize and win shows just how much workers need and desire a union,” said the union.

Starbucks has established a good reputation as a forward-thinking business throughout the years.

Howard Schultz had a key role in creating the impression by providing staff with:

  • Company stock
  • Employee health insurance
  • Tuition reimbursement

While he prepares to leave his job as CEO, his image is put in jeopardy, in part because of the company’s hostility to the union.

Howard Schultz isn’t giving up despite the criticism.

Lost trust

When Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks in 2022, he spent time speaking with staff members during a “listening tour” to help him create a new business strategy.

He said that the business had become disorganized.

“I’ve talked to thousands of our Starbucks partners,” Schultz said.

“I was shocked, stunned to hear the loneliness, the anxiety, the fracturing of trust in government, fracturing of trust in companies, fracturing of trust in families, the lack of hope in terms of opportunity.”

According to Schultz, American businesses deal with unionizations because employees are more angry with the situation than the company.

CSX and 2 major unions find even grounds in agreement

CSX Two railroad unions were successful in reaching an agreement on paid sick leave on Tuesday with the freight train corporation CSX Transportation.

The business ultimately decided to offer paid sick days to 5,000 CSX union members.

These are the names of the two unions:

  • The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED), which represents engineers
  • The Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC), which represents mechanical workers.

The news

The deal was announced by CSX’s president and chief executive officer, Joe Hinrichs, who said:

“CSX is committed to listening to our railroaders and working with their representatives to find solutions that improve the quality of life and experience as employees.”

“These agreements demonstrate that commitment and are a direct result of the collaborative relationship we are working to cultivate with all of the unions that represent CSX employees.”

The agreement

The two unions and the corporation have an agreement that gives employees four days of paid sick time each year, paid in full.

The two unions also emphasized that members are permitted to take three days of personal leave for sick days.

The agreement was further explained by Don Grissom, president of the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen:

“We are extremely proud that BRC is one of the very first unions to reach this type of an agreement.”

“This agreement is a significant accomplishment and provides a very important benefit for our members working at CSXT.”

“The other carriers should take note and come to the bargaining table in a similar manner.”

The agreement, according to the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division, sets the way for employees to pay themselves from their 401(k) or donate any unused sick time to it.

The agreement was also explored with BMWED President Tony D. Cardwell.

“The other Class I railroads just reported extremely healthy earnings for 2022, many of which were record setting, and the Workers are the people responsible for those profits,” said Cardwell.

“Other than absolute greed, there is no reason why the other Class I railroads cannot enter into an identical paid sick leave Agreement with BMWED, or any other Rail Union for that matter, especially in light of what CSX and the BMWED have done today.”

2022 contract negotiation

Twelve unions and US freight railroads were unable to reach an agreement on paid sick time during contract negotiations last year.

Tens of thousands of train workers almost went on strike as a result of the contentious discussion.

Last year, the Biden administration stepped in and engaged in negotiations to convince eight unions to endorse the tentative agreement.

Four unions opposed it during that time.

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Returning to the negotiating table were the railways and the unions, but the threat of a strike caused the talks to break down.

The unions originally asked for 10 sick days, but eventually reduced their request to four.

The railroad corporations allegedly turned down the unions’ offer, however.

The rejection compelled a vote by Congress to enforce the contract on the four unions.

It prevented a disastrous economic downturn as a result, but it also shattered employees’ aspirations for paid sick leave.

A new frontier

The CSX agreement with BMWED and BRC ushers in a new era for American freight railroad firms.

The company claims they will keep reviewing the contracts with the remaining ten unions.

Only three significant freight railways remain without a sick leave policy at this time:

  • BNSF
  • Norfolk Southern
  • Union Pacific

A Norfolk Southern train derailed near East Palestine, Ohio, last week, causing a tragic catastrophe in Norfolk.

A potentially dangerous substance called vinyl chloride was hauled by the railway in 20 cars.

Residents in the area were forced to leave their houses as a result of the disaster while workers fought to put out the fire and contain the possible leak.

Almost every vehicle that had chemical leaks had been removed from the region as of Tuesday this week.

There is only one car left in the area.

The train’s engineer and conductor were unharmed.

Disney World union tipped to reject contract offer

Disney World: The expansive theme park resort known as Disney World brings the magic of Disney to life.

It truly is a world unto itself, with four theme parks, two water parks, multiple hotels, and a variety of food and entertainment options.

Every corner of Disney World is packed with wonder and magic that appeals to tourists of all ages, from the famous Cinderella’s Castle to the exhilarating roller coasters.

Behind the scenes, however, the workforce is stirring as workers contemplate a new contract offer.

What’s happening?

On Thursday and Friday, 32,000 Disney World employees will vote on a management offer.

The workers include:

  • Performers
  • Restaurant and shop workers
  • Bus, tram, and monorail drivers
  • Front desk workers
  • Hotel housekeepers

40% of the workforce is made up of full-time, contract employees that work for Disney World.

Currently, there are about 75,000 cast members working at the park, including full-time, part-time, hourly, and salaried workers.

The employment rates at Disney World are similar to those before to the pandemic.

Salary change

Disney World is providing a five-year wage reform that will increase employees’ salaries by at least $1 per hour every year.

By 2026, workers will earn approximately $20 per hour as a result.

The firm also disclosed that in the first year of the deal, 46% of the cast members will receive raises of more than $1/hour.

A spokesperson for Disney named Andrea Finger described it as a highly compelling offer that ensured yearly raises throughout the course of the five-year contract.

A total of 33% to 46% in rises will be given to the majority of workers, she added.

Additionally, the new offer instantly compensates bus drivers and housekeepers more than $20 per hour.

Culinary employees, on the other hand, start at $20 to $25 per hour, depending on their role.

Employees will receive a wage raise starting on October 1 that is retroactive to when the last contract terminated.

It would give full-time employees one-time pre-tax payouts totaling more than $700.

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Union stance

Although the raises are tempting, union leaders advise members to reject the offer.

The union claims that Disney presented its proposal as the best they could provide, which is why members are required to cast a vote.

This isn’t the case since there is a preliminary agreement, under which an offer is normally put to a vote by rank-and-file union members.

The signs currently point to the offer being turned down, though.

The six union locals included by the contract demand an immediate 20% rise ($3 per hour), with an extra $ 1 hour hike each subsequent year, for what they claim is 75% of members making $15 per hour.

The president of the Service Trades Council Union, a group of six union locals bargaining with management, is Matt Hollis.

“The unions have been clear from our very first bargaining session that a dollar in the first year is not enough,” said Hollis.

“A dollar does not afford Disney workers with the ability to keep up with the skyrocketing rent increases.”

“And a dollar does not afford Disney workers with the ability to continue to purchase basic necessities, such as food, gas, and utilities.”

What workers are saying

Jonathan Pulliam is a Disney World employee who began working there since 2018.

He has dressed up as a variety of Disney cartoon characters, including villains and characters from Star Wars.

Pulliam acknowledges that, despite his love for the job, he can no longer support it on his $15.85 per hour income, which is more than $550 per week.

“Me loving it, that’s not enough to pay the bills,” he said.

Apartment rent often costs over $1,800 per month, according to

Without living with his sister, Jonathan Pulliam would not have been able to make ends meet.

“I’d probably be living in my car,” he said, recalling his annual childhood trips to Disney World with his family.

“I know several who are living in cars because they can’t afford to pay rent.”

“It’s a tourist area. Everything’s expensive.”

“I’m filling my car three times a week,” Pulliam continued. “I would love to ask these execs if they could get by on $1 an hour more.”

“It’s disheartening. They don’t have to decide [whether] … to eat or get gas.”

Jonathan Pulliam shared the bewilderment of others when he learned that former Disney executives were departing the company with sizable salaries.


Negotiations for the new union contract have been going on since August.

There hasn’t been a set date for the strike deadline or the strike authorization vote, despite widespread anticipation that the unions’ rank-and-file will reject the offer.

According to union leadership, if union members reject the offer, Disney will likely come up with a better one.

Disney said more discussions aren’t completely out of the question and that votes on contracts generally result in new rounds of negotiations.

“While Disney insists at the bargaining table that this is the best offer, we know Disney can do better, and Disney knows they must do better,” said Matt Hollis.

Additionally, he noted that employees receiving raises of more than $1 an hour work in roles where the business has difficulty attracting and retaining staff.