While the drinks may be hot, the baristas are “steaming mad.”
So says United Steelworkers Union (USW), as staff at Victoria’s Douglas Street Starbucks voice frustration about not receiving a nationwide wage increase because they’re unionized.
USW represents staff at the corporate drive-through store and says on May 3rd, Starbucks Canada announced investments for its “partners” (employees), including increased pay, benefits and training.
According to the union, Starbucks senior vice president Lori Digulla said all retail partners in every province and role would benefit from a pay bump starting this summer.
But a subsequent email indicated Douglas Street staff wouldn’t receive the raise—brewing up dismay from the local employees, who wrote to Digulla expressing their disappointment.
“Starbucks assured us that they would respect our choice to unionize. We feel that not agreeing with the union to extend the wage increase to our store is not respecting our choice,” wrote the employees.
“We understand and agree that our collective bargaining agreement must be respected. That is why there is a clause to allow for bilateral agreements for things such as extending the wage increase to our store.”
In a Monday, May 30th release, USW notes Starbucks “openly said that unions are unnecessary and has actively engaged in anti-union tactics to discourage partners from joining a union.”
“Within the last two years, workers at more than 50 Starbucks stores in North America have voted to join a union, with hundreds of additional votes currently in progress,” the union said.
In August 2020, staff at the Douglas Street store voted to unionize.
USW Western Canada Director Scott Lunny is calling on the coffee giant to “do what’s right,” saying “every worker has the right to join a union without the fear of relational or harassment from their employer.”
“We have language in the collective agreement, negotiated by both parties, that allows for changes deemed necessary by mutual agreement of the employer and the union, at any time, during the life of the agreement,” added Lunny.
USW says it requested Starbucks Canada to mutually agree to extend the partner investments to Douglas Street staff, but the request was denied.
In an emailed statement to Victoria Buzz, a Starbucks spokesperson says the company reached a 3-year collective bargaining agreement with the union last June.
“Since then, Starbucks has fulfilled all obligations of that contract, including the negotiated annual increases, which are unique to Douglas Street partners, as agreed upon by the partners and the USW,” the spokesperson wrote.
“Any changes to the contract will be negotiated by both parties in the next round of bargaining, which we anticipate will begin in the months before the contract expires in June 2024.”