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In a reversal, Starbucks proposes restarting union talks and reaching contract agreements in 2024

  • File – Advocates for a union for Starbucks employees watch...

    File – Advocates for a union for Starbucks employees watch as company founder Howard Schultz leaves a hearing after testifying to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee at the Capitol in Washington on March 29, 2023. Starbucks says it’s committed to bargaining with unionized workers and reaching labor agreements next year. The move Friday is major reversal for the coffee chain after two years fighting the unionization of its U.S. stores. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

  • FILE – Starbucks employees and supporters link arms during a...

    FILE – Starbucks employees and supporters link arms during a union election watch party Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. Starbucks says it’s committed to bargaining with unionized workers and reaching labor agreements next year. The move Friday is major reversal for the coffee chain after two years fighting the unionization of its U.S. stores. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)

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By DEE-ANN DURBIN (AP Business Writer)

Starbucks said Friday it’s committed to bargaining with its unionized workers and reaching labor agreements next year, a major reversal for the coffee chain after two years fighting the unionization of its U.S. stores.

In a letter to Lynne Fox, the president of the Workers United union, Starbucks Chief Partner Officer Sara Kelly said the current bargaining impasse between the two sides “should not be acceptable to either of us.” Kelly asked to restart bargaining in January.

“We will set as an ambition and hopeful goal the completion of bargaining and the ratification of contracts in 2024,” Kelly wrote in the letter.

In a statement distributed by Workers United, Fox said she is reviewing the letter and will respond.

“We’ve never said no to meeting with Starbucks. Anything that moves bargaining forward in a positive way is most welcome,” Fox said.

Workers United said the last bargaining session between the two sides was May 23.

Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York, voting to unionize. It was the first company-owned store to join a union in more than three decades.

Since then, at least 370 company-owned U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, according to the National Labor Relations Board. There are about 10,000 Starbucks stores in the U.S.

Workers say they’re seeking higher pay, more consistent schedules and more say in issues like store safety and workload during busy times. Seattle-based Starbucks has said its stores run more efficiently if it can work directly with its employees and not through a third party.

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