business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Salon reports that "leaked footage of a video call in which Starbucks' billionaire CEO urges managers to step up their efforts to thwart worker unionization is yet another sign of the company's growing desperation, labor advocates said on Thursday.

"In the undated video published by the pro-worker media organization More Perfect Union, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz - who earlier this month became the company's CEO for the third time - implored managers 'to encourage [employees] to really understand what it might mean to vote for a union.'

"Offering no evidence, Schultz - who referred to unionizing employees as 'so-called workers' and 'a new outside force that's trying desperately to disrupt our company' said, 'I wasn't there, but there are stories that people potentially had been bullied not to vote.'

"Starbucks North America president Rossann Williams also appears in the video, telling managers that it's their 'number one responsibility' to 'do your role' to ensure that employees 'get balanced information about what's going on'."

•  The New York Times reports that "the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against Starbucks on Friday for what the agency said was the unlawful firing of seven employees in Memphis in retaliation for seeking to unionize.

"The labor board said the company fired the workers in February because they 'joined or assisted the union and engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees from engaging in these activities' … Starbucks did not immediately comment but said at the time that it had fired the workers for violating safety and security policies, including allowing members of the media into the store to conduct interviews after hours and failing to wear masks during the encounter."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "several Apple stores have shown interest in unionizing, according to organizers. Workers from a store in Atlanta last week filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, the agency confirmed, and could soon approve a vote. Apple employees at a New York store are also aiming to file for an election, according to organizers.

"While demands could vary by store, some Apple organizers have said they seek higher pay, increased tuition reimbursement and larger 401(k) matches, among other goals. Some organizers have said Apple workers haven’t been given equitable stock options or cost-of-living adjustments, as the tech giant has soared to new financial heights during the pandemic and as inflation in the U.S. has risen to historic levels."

•  This isn't a labor story in the strictest sense of the word, but it is relevant to the broader discussion …

The Information writes that "Netflix’s stock collapse this week has wiped out the value of all stock options issued to company employees since 2018. It didn’t take long for employees to complain: At a staff meeting the day after the company’s earnings report on Tuesday, employees pressed the company to consider issuing extra option grants to offset losses, as a morale booster, according to people familiar with the situation.

"The complaints put the spotlight on Netflix’s approach to stock compensation. The streaming giant allows employees to decide how much of their compensation should be paid in stock options and how much in cash … Co-CEO Reed Hastings, for instance, took 98% of his $34.65 million compensation as stock options in 2021, Netflix has said. His co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, who earns the same, took only 42% of his compensation as options."