Starbucks workers at three Twin Cities coffee shops went on strike this week as the company ushered in a new chief executive.
On Wednesday, baristas picketed at the following locations: the St. Paul Starbucks on Snelling and Stanford avenues in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, the Starbucks off Silver Lake Road in St. Anthony and the Starbucks on Cedar Avenue near Minnehaha Parkway in south Minneapolis.
The local demonstrations were part of Starbucks Workers United's nationwide effort at more than 100 stores to have groups of employees push for better livable wages, consistent scheduling and the right to organize "free from fear and intimidation," per a release. Workers also marched outside Starbucks' Seattle headquarters.
The St. Paul Starbucks was closed all day Wednesday, according to organizers. The Minneapolis shop closed mid-morning, and the St. Anthony Starbucks continued to operate while some workers were on strike.
Starbucks representatives said Starbucks has come to the bargaining table in good faith as the law requires when stores have voted to unionize.
In a statement about the protests, a Starbucks representative said, "Rather than publicizing rallies and protests, we encourage Workers United to live up to their obligations by responding to our proposed sessions and meeting us in-person to move the good faith bargaining process forward."
Starbucks hosted its annual shareholders meeting Thursday. This week, Starbucks named Laxman Narasimhan as its new chief executive officer. In a letter to employees, investors and the general public Thursday, Narasimhan wrote, "While our performance is strong, our health needs to be stronger. We must care for the artists and the theater in the front of our stores, and the factory in the back. We strive to be a different kind of company operating in a different kind of world."
Since December 2021, Starbucks workers have organized at nearly 300 stores to try to form unions. Last year, the St. Paul Starbucks was the first of the coffee company's Minnesota locations where workers voted to unionize.
The company, under former CEO Howard Schultz, has voiced its opposition to unionization, saying working with employees directly is core to its culture and the experiences Starbucks creates in stores. The company has said it respects workers' right to organize.
Last week, a federal labor judge found Starbucks violated labor laws "hundreds of times" during a unionization effort in New York. Schultz has agreed to testify next week before a U.S. Senate committee that will examine Starbucks' actions amid the unionization campaign.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.