Union Activists End Bid To Hijack Starbucks Board After Negotiating ‘Progress’

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Will Kessler Contributor
Font Size:

The Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) is withdrawing its shareholder proposal to put three union activists on the Starbucks board of directors after making progress toward a labor agreement, the Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

The group began the campaign in November, arguing that Starbucks poor relations and conflicts with its workers were hurting the brand and impacting shareholders, but withdrew its proposal for the March 13 meeting, citing a meaningful dialogue with shareholders and a commitment to repair worker relations, the SOC told the DCNF. The suspension of the campaign follows a move by Starbucks last week to restart talks with unionized workers, thawing tensions that have been high since the workers first started organizing in 2021, according to The New York Times. (RELATED: Local Restaurants Can’t Keep Up With Minimum Wage Hikes, Inflation)

“Since the announcements, we have had meaningful dialogue with a number of other shareholders,” the SOC said in a statement to the DCNF. “Based on these discussions, we believe that by and large shareholders are optimistic the Company has committed to these changes in good faith and intends to begin to repair its relationship with its workers, which will ultimately enhance performance and shareholder value. We also believe Starbucks’ establishment of its Environmental, Partner and Community Impact Board Committee represents an important governance reform, one which we hope will increase board oversight and performance on Starbucks’ partner-related issues.”

The company, in its announcement last week, also extended benefits it gave to non-union workers in 2022 to union stores, like the ability for customers to tip using their credit card, according to the NYT. The company gained a new CEO last year, Laxman Narasimhan, who replaced founder Howard Schultz who was serving as interim CEO, and has taken a softer view on unionization, with the company announcing in December that it wanted to restart contract bargaining.

Schultz, during his stint as interim CEO, had been accused of union busting and was notoriously against organizing at Starbucks locations, which began to take root in 2021, according to NPR. The former CEO closed some of its unionized stores and also fired some workers who were involved in organizing, leading administrative law judges to find that Starbucks had violated labor laws numerous times.

“While we continue to believe that our three exceptionally qualified nominees — Maria Echaveste, Hon. Wilma Liebman, and Hon. Josh Gotbaum — would be additive to the Starbucks Board, we feel that now is the time to acknowledge the progress that has been made and to allow the Company and its workers to focus on moving forward,” the SOC told the DCNF. “As such, we are withdrawing our director nominations.”

The SOC was emboldened to submit the proposal due to relaxed standards for shareholder proposals passed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that went into effect in August 2022, allowing shareholders not present at the meeting to pick individual candidates as opposed to being forced to pick between all dissident candidates and company candidates.

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the DCNF.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact