In response to the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Starbucks updated their medical benefits and announced that they will now provide coverage for employees’ travels to other states that offer abortion.
Employees of Starbucks were celebrating the company’s announcement with open arms, but some didn’t chime in as there was no indication from management whether or not unionized locations would be able to enjoy this update.
Sara Kelly, the acting executive vice president of Starbucks’ Partner Resources said that federal labor laws require collective bargaining for them to negotiate wages and benefits with their unionized workers.
“This means Starbucks cannot make promises about any benefits for workers currently represented by unions,” she explained.
Read also: Companies Stand in Solidarity with Employees Following the Overturn of the Roe V. Wade Decision
Maggie Carter, who works at a unionized Starbucks in Knoxville, told Bon Appétit that she is still unsure about the availability of the updated benefit.
Starbucks’ plan to provide benefits has been in the works for months, but Carter is still waiting for her manager to give an answer on her inclusion.
The barista feels Starbucks’ ambiguity is an attempt to confuse and intimidate their 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.”
According to a Starbucks spokesperson, all employees will be able to enjoy this benefit. This includes those in unionized stores too.
“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.
Dr. Rebecca Givan, an associate professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University in New Jersey has called on Starbucks to clarify its statement regarding unionized employees.
“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.
Organizers are on the rise in America, with more companies seeing their employees organize. This includes major corporations such as Starbucks, Apple, and Amazon.
Starbucks has been vocal against efforts to organize their employees, suggesting that they should speak directly with the company instead.
Read also: Apple Employees in Maryland to Form a Union This Week
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.