business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that "Starbucks Corp. employees at a store in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood are taking steps to unionize, as organization efforts at Starbucks across the country rise.

"On Monday, workers at the Seattle-based coffee chain's Broadway and Denny location filed a petition to the National Labor Relations Board to hold a union election and sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, asking him to sign the Fair Elections Principles declaration."

The story notes that workers at a store in Buffalo, New York, voted to unionize, and in quick succession "two cafes in Boston filed for union elections of their own, in addition to a store in Mesa, Arizona."

"We do not see our desire to unionize as a reaction to specific policies, events, or changes, but rather a commitment to growing the company and the quality of our work," the letter to Johnson said. "We see unionizing as a fundamental and necessary way to participate in Starbucks and its future as partners."

Starbucks has said that it will negotiate with unions in places where its labor force has voted to organize "in good faith," while still maintaining that it can operate better without anyone getting in between it and its workforce.

KC's View:

This strikes me as an entirely preventable situation, and that it is entirely possible that Starbucks put a greater emphasis on strategy and tactics than it did on preserving the culture that differentiated it.  As we all know, culture eats those things for breakfast.