(Reuters) -Starbucks Corp, which has faced criticism over its opposition to union organizing, said the labor union representing some of its stores has rejected in-person bargaining sessions and is insisting on hybrid negotiations.
Starbucks Workers United, which represents thousands of U.S. baristas at about 200 cafes, conducted unauthorized virtual broadcasts of bargaining sessions without prior agreement from all parties, Starbucks said in a statement to Reuters on Monday.
“Workers United is asking for a seat at the table, we’re simply encouraging them take their seat in-person at the negotiating table, as required, to move the bargaining process forward,” the company said.
This comes after National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) prosecutors alleged that Starbucks violated labor law by refusing to engage in bargaining if some workers were attending remotely via videoconference, according to a Bloomberg report.
“Now that it’s clear we have the right to bargain using a virtual component, we hope Starbucks is ready, too,” Tyler Keeling, a leader of the Starbucks Workers United in California said.
The NLRB did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
On March 29, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will testify before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, after earlier resisting requests to appear and answer questions about the company’s compliance with labor law.
“Hearing this days before Howard Schultz is set to testify in front of the HELP committee is huge, especially because he has personally talked about the fact that Starbucks is refusing to bargain with us because of the Zoom screen,” Keeling said.
(Reporting by Baranjot Kaur and Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Chandni Shah and Nilutpal Timsina; Editing by Varun H K)