Starbucks union organizers take aim at company’s new CEO: ‘I’d prefer it if he stayed out of our way’

By Bibhu Pattnaik

Although Starbucks Corporation’s new CEO Laxman Narasimhan recently laid out his plans while at the company, which includes working in Starbucks stores as a barista once a month, union organizers aren’t on board. 

CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz backstage with soon to be Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan at Starbucks Headquarters during Investor Day in Seattle, Washington Tuesday, September 13, 2022. Narasimhan is looking to continue the reinvention plan that Schultz had planned for improvements to the company and the store. MELINA MARA/BENZINGA

 

Last week, Narasimhan assumed the CEO role, taking the reins from Howard Schultz two weeks ahead of schedule. The former Pepsi executive has spent the last two months learning about Starbucks, including earning his barista certification. 

“I felt it was very important to start as a barista. I wanted to really understand what they do and how they do it,” he explained to the Associated Press in an email. “I’ve loved and learned so much about the retail experience from working in our stores, and can now make an excellent French press if I do say so myself.”

Narasimhan’s latest move follows in the footsteps of DoorDash Inc CEO Tony Xu, who, along with members of his executive team, famously makes DoorDash deliveries once a month. 

Union organizers, however, are not entirely happy with Narasimhan’s decision to work at the stores.

“I’d really prefer it if he stayed out of our way and instead spent 40 hrs learning about worker’s rights and how NOT to commit thousands of unfair labor practice violations in a year,” Starbucks union organizer Michelle Eisen tweeted on Friday. 

One of Eisen’s followers responded, wondering why Narasimhan opted to work as barista and whether he would live on a barista’s salary.   

“How heroic for the new @starbucks CEO to work as a barista once a month,” said Kraig Peck in response to the CEO’s plans. “Will he live on a barista’s salary?”

Customers wait for their coffee at a Starbucks store on March 19, 2023, in Seattle, Washington. Unions and Starbucks had not come agreement on a new contract. I RYU/BENZINGA

 

During last week’s annual Starbucks shareholder meeting, Starbucks Workers United announced seven new stores had filed for union elections.

“If Howard Schultz or Laxman Narasimhan think this movement is limited to college towns and coastal cities, they’ve got another thing coming,” Lizzy Prichard, a Starbucks organizer in Ohio, said in a release. “Union Starbucks partners are here to stay.”

Meanwhile, Narasimhan said he would like to see Starbucks evolve into a more global company, be less wasteful, and move faster.

“My immersion exposed me to every aspect of Starbucks business, culture, and brand,” AP quoted him saying. “Together, we have acknowledged the opportunity for a refounding of Starbucks.”

The new CEO is planning to continue his predecessor’s reinvention plan on updating training, improving equipment, and increase wages as Starbucks made over $1 billion towards these plans. These works in the making left by former CEO, Howard Schultz. 

Narasimhan will be hosting the first shareholders meeting on Thursday during a time since corporate is trying to fight off unionization during a tense time.

“With our reinvention plan introduced last year, we will continue our focus on improving the store, customer, and of course, the partner experience,” Narasimhan said in a written statement. He stated he respects union’s right to organize, but Starbucks can function best without a union.

Produced in association with Benzinga

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The post Starbucks Union Organizers Take Aim At Company’s New CEO: ‘I’d Prefer It If He Stayed Out Of Our Way’ appeared first on Zenger News.

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