Starbucks and Union Agree to Work Out Framework for Contract Talks

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Workers who have helped lead the organizing said the development had surprised them. “It still feels pretty surreal right now,” said Michelle Eisen, a longtime barista at a Starbucks in Buffalo that was the first company-owned store to unionize during the current campaign. “There has not been a single call I’ve been on today where either I wasn’t crying or everyone else wasn’t crying.”

If a framework is agreed to and quickly leads to contracts, experts said, it could be a major development in labor relations in corporate America, where companies like Amazon and Apple have resisted union organizing to varying degrees.

“If Starbucks genuinely intends to respect workers’ right to organize, stop its intimidation and harassment of pro-union workers, and engage in real good-faith bargaining, this is a huge step forward,” John Logan, a professor at San Francisco State University who is an expert on how companies respond to union campaigns, said in an email.

But Dr. Logan said he wanted to withhold judgment on the value of the framework until details were available. “There’s plenty of reason to be cautious: Over the past 2.5 years, the company has engaged in one of the most aggressive and unlawful anti-union campaigns in modern history,” he said.

The shift appears to have been driven by the company’s chief executive, Laxman Narasimhan, who took over nearly a year ago.

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