In a recent move to ensure their employees’ health care plans continue, Starbucks updated its medical coverage after the Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade and will now include coverage to travel for abortion services if it is unavailable in the employee’s home state.
While the statement gave employees a reason to celebrate, Starbucks made no indications on whether or not unionized locations would benefit from the update, enraging some employees.
Starbucks’ acting executive vice president of Partner Resources, Sara Kelly said that federal labor laws required them to bargain collectively with their workers over wages and benefits.
“This means Starbucks cannot make promises about any benefits for workers currently represented by unions,” she explained.
In Knoxville, Tennessee, barista Maggie Carter is still uncertain about availability of updated benefits.
Despite Starbucks’ earlier announcement that they would be adding the benefit in May, Carter has yet to receive any word from her manager about it after asking last month.
Carter believes that Starbucks’ ambiguity is an attempt by the company to confuse and intimidate its unionized employees.
“This shows what Starbucks is willing to leverage in this fight,” said the barista. “It makes me feel disgusted that they’d dangle abortion over people’s heads as if it’s a cat toy when women are literally losing their rights to bodily autonomy. It just feels dystopian.”
A company spokesperson confirmed that the benefit will be available to all of their workers, including those in unionized stores.
“Because this is an expansion of existing benefits, if you are a Starbucks partner with Starbucks healthcare benefits, the travel expense cost for these kinds of medical procedures is covered, regardless of union status,” the spokesperson said.
An associate professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Rebecca Givan, Ph.D, urged Starbucks to clarify their statement.
“I think they’re trying to burnish their progressive reputation while scaring their employees away from unionizing by suggesting that none of their benefits are secure,” said Givan, who is not associated with the company’s unionization process.
Last year, companies like Starbucks and Amazon witnessed more of their employees organizing to form labor unions.
Starbucks has been vocal against these efforts and suggests the employees speak directly with them instead of forming organizations.
Opinions expressed by CEO Weekly contributors are their own.