Starbucks announces pay raises as Buffalo stores continue union effort

Buffalo

(WIVB) — Coffee-house giant Starbucks will increase worker pay for the third time in two years.

The company announced the raises Wednesday as workers at three stores in the Buffalo area try to organize a union.

Hourly workers will be paid an average of $17 per hour and as much as $23 per hour.

Starbucks said the raises have nothing to do with the Buffalo union organizing effort.

But pro-union workers have a different take:

“I don’t think there’s a question that this was in response to our union campaign,” said Casey Moore, a barista at the Williamsville Place Starbucks store.

“I mean, Starbucks has had 50 years to introduce seniority pay, and hasn’t, and then all of the sudden does this weeks before we have a union election? Like, it’s not credible to say that it’s not in response to the union election.”

Starbucks said it has historically included seniority pay increases in wage increases, including one last year and it announced another round earlier this year.

“Compensation for tenured partners has been a consistent part of our company’s history,” a Starbucks spokesman said.

In July, Rossann Williams, a senior executive for Starbucks, sent a memo to all employees that stated the coffee chain would be accelerating hourly pay raises.

A screenshot of Rossann Williams memo to workers in July

Williams has been in Buffalo for over a month, one of several executives and other managers from other markets, who have been in the area since the union effort was made public. Starbucks said Williams is in the Buffalo market to hear concerns from workers and make necessary changes.

Pro-union workers told News 4 that the influx of executives and managers is part of an anti-union effort, which Starbucks has adamantly denied.

Starbucks said it also will make improvements to training, recruiting, and staffing in response to concerns raised by workers.

Dan Telvock is an award-winning investigative producer and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.

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