Starbucks Union Workers Plan To Livestream From Empty Bargaining Table

The Starbucks union war is heating up. Starbucks Workers United announced on Twitter it will be going live on the popular video live-streaming service Twitch from August 11 until August 17 in an effort to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the company as they battle it out in the fight for the first union contract.

After waiting for a response from the company for quite some time Starbucks workers are now clearly fed up with stalled negotiations and are taking matters into their own hands. "If Starbucks doesn't want to come to the table, we'll bring the table to them," an account for Starbucks Workers United wrote on Twitter, which was recently rebranded to X.

"Every day they don't show up, we will be streaming live on Twitch to outline a core [tenant] of our demands outside of the Seattle Reserve Roastery, and leaving an 'empty seat' for Starbucks to start the bargaining process," an accompanying graphic posted with the tweet reads.

A drawn out fight for better working conditions

Since 2021, at least 338 U.S. Starbucks locations have voted to unionize in an effort to get higher wages, better working conditions, and fair staffing. And although workers have begun bargaining with the company, stalled negotiations indicate an agreement with the coffee giant most likely won't be achieved any time soon. 

In February of this year, Starbucks' former interim CEO, Howard Schultz, told CNN exactly where he stands on the topic of unionization. "I don't think a union has a place in Starbucks," he said. "If a de minimis group of people file for a petition to be unionized, they have a right to do so. But we as a company have a right also to say: 'We have a different vision that is better, more dynamic, and we have a history to prove it.'" 

The company's new CEO Laxman Narasimhan, who took the reins in March, shared a similar sentiment with The Associated Press (via CBS): "I continue to believe a direct relationship with our partners is the best way forward," he said.

Labor negotiations heat up

In March of this year, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee over the coffee chain's labor record and its conduct during its employees' push for unionization. A few days before the hearing, the Senate committee revealed in a press release that there had been more than 500 unfair labor charges issued against Starbucks and the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) had filed over 80 complaints against the brand for violating federal labor law.

One of the most egregious of the violations was the unjust firing of more than a dozen Starbucks workers, allegedly because they wanted to join the union. In July, the NLRB ruled the coffee giant clearly violated labor laws and ordered Starbucks to rehire illegally fired Pittsburgh employees with backpay.

To see if Starbucks finally takes its seat at the bargaining table, watch Starbucks Workers United's live stream on Twitch every day at 12 p.m. PST until August 17.