Starbucks and Union Restart Contract Talks After Bitter Standoff

Starbucks and the union that represents over 10,000 of its workers returned to the bargaining table on Wednesday for the first time in nearly a year, a pivotal moment in the yearslong battle between the coffee giant and its organized workers.

Company representatives and 150 representatives from the union, Workers United, met at an undisclosed location in Atlanta to begin negotiating a framework for union contracts for each of the over 400 unionized stores.

The last time the two sides sat down was May 23, and they have spent months blaming each other for the impasse. During that time, workers have staged several strikes and tried to win seats on Starbucks’s board, and the company has sued the union over its use of the Starbucks logo.

The feuding eased in February when the two sides issued a joint statement saying they were returning to the bargaining table. Michelle Eisen, a longtime barista at a Starbucks in Buffalo that was the first company-owned store to unionize during the current campaign, said she was optimistic that the company would bargain in good faith.

“It’s been a long couple of years, and it feels like there’s some levity now and a little more lightness in general,” Ms. Eisen said. “All signs point in a positive direction.”

Reflecting the new attitude, over 250 union members plan to attend Wednesday’s session virtually, a way for workers to ensure that all voices are heard. Last year, the union said, Starbucks insisted that the talks be held completely in person.

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