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Credit card tipping coming to local union Starbucks stores after national agreement

A sign posted on a tent outside the St. Mary's and East Houston Street Starbucks where workers went on strike on Thursday. It reads:
"Starbucks Corporate: Stop Unfair Labor Practices! Respect Our Union. Starbucks Workers United."
Josh Peck
A sign posted outside the St. Mary's and East Houston St. Starbucks where workers went on strike on Thursday.

Credit card tipping will soon be available at the seven San Antonio-area union Starbucks stores following an agreement between the company and Starbucks Workers United, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) affiliate that represents thousands of baristas across the country.

The company and union jointly announced the agreement on Tuesday, which includes the introduction of credit card tipping and other benefits offered exclusively to non-union stores in 2022 as a sign of good faith from Starbucks.

The agreement said the two will “begin discussions on a foundational framework to achieve collective bargaining agreements” and establish a fair process for more stores to organize if they wish, according to the union press release.

The agreement was made during mediation discussions over IP and brand lawsuits the union and company have filed against one another after the union posted pro-Palestinian messaging the company said was wrongly associated with its own brand. The agreement sought to find a resolution to those lawsuits as well.

Parker Davis, a union organizer at the unionized Starbucks on Blanco and Wurzbach, said it was welcome news.

“It represents a lot of hard work throughout the years from many many different organizers,” Davis said. “But yeah, super excited.”

Workers at unionized Starbucks stores in San Antonio and around the country have long complained that Starbucks withheld credit card tipping and other benefits as a union-busting tactic to prevent more stores from organizing. Starbucks previously defended the action, claiming it would be a violation of labor law to unilaterally change organized employees’ working conditions without a contract.

The agreement announced by the company and SBWU indicate a potential turning point for the union effort that has organized nearly 400 Starbucks stores, but which has so far been unable to ratify a contract at any of those locations.

National Labor Relations Board judges have made dozens of decisions finding the company violated labor law hundreds of times. Starbucks has denied all accusations that it violated labor law, including multiple accusations made by San Antonio workers.

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