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Thaw Between Starbucks, Union, Enables Talks to Resume

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and the union that represents its baristas will resume contract negotiations on Wednesday, ending an extended stalemate.

Shares in the retail coffee chain inched higher seven cents to $87.94 early Wednesday as investors were taking their first sip of brew.

The two sides’ return to the bargaining table follows their February announcement that they found a “constructive path forward” during mediation discussions related to litigation over the union’s use of Starbucks’ branding. It marked a major pivot for Starbucks, which had spent the previous two years battling Workers United and the broader movement to unionize its cafes.

Roughly 500 company-owned Starbucks in the U.S. have voted to unionize under Workers United since the first elections in December 2021, according to a tally from the National Labor Relations Board, as of Monday. But none of those locations, which make up a small fraction of total U.S. footprint, have come close to a collective bargaining agreement.

Starbucks and the union, which is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, have previously met to bargain, but those talks quickly ended in stalemate. Both sides have accused the other of sabotaging the talks.

Starbucks had previously insisted on face-to-face negotiations, with no representatives appearing via Zoom. The union has accused Starbucks of using that excuse as a stalling tactic. It is unclear if all representatives will be appearing in person in the latest round of talks.