Starbucks recently announced a new abortion policy to help employees seek out healthcare—unless they are part of a unionized store.
The carveout for union shops was not met well online.
After the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and its constitutional protection of abortion, Starbucks announced it would reimburse employee travel expenses if they needed to get an abortion in another state, according to the Seattle Times. However, the company said it could not “make promises or guarantees about any benefits” for unionized stores, angering labor advocates and Twitter users.
“I am begging people who applaud corporate travel funds for abortion-seeking to do two things,” one user wrote. “ask trans people how well this has worked for us so far, and ponder how exactly you’d go about informing your HR dept, if you have one, of your intent to commit a felony.”
“Want some forced birth with your venti latte?” wrote Terri Gerstein, a workers’ rights lawyer. “Starbucks is leveraging Roe’s fall in support of its union-busting. Says it’ll provide access to abortion travel to employees but can’t promise that to workers in stores unionized w @SBWorkersUnited. Shameful!!”
In a statement, a Starbucks spokesperson said to the Daily Dot that they were not threatening to take away benefits for unionized workers and that the reaction to the policy is incorrect. All stores will have the benefits available to them, but the company said the nature of collective bargaining makes it impossible to provide promises or guarantees for benefits.
“We will always bargain in good faith but we cannot guarantee what we cannot guarantee,” the spokesperson said.
Starbucks posted a letter after the Dobbs decision and reiterated that it “always bargain in good faith” but could not guarantee union store support of the updated measures.
“For example, even if we were to offer a certain benefit at the bargaining table, a union could decide to exchange it for something else,” the letter said. “Simply put, it’s difficult to predict the outcome of negotiations, and each store’s negotiation may look different.”
A Starbucks organizer pointed out that not only was the company not guaranteeing the benefit to all stores, but the abortion travel benefit would only be available to people on the actual Starbucks health plan.
“Something everyone loves to talk about this campaign- how young the workers are- in America many workers under 26 are on their parent’s health insurance,” she wrote in a thread. “They won’t have access to this benefit.”
The organizer said the benefit would only be available to a “selection of workers who are frankly the ones least likely to need access to it.”
“This is a perfect example of how Starbucks benefits are designed to look good in print and be essentially unusable in reality,” she wrote.
Other users chimed in with reactions to the policy.
“As always, Starbucks’ benefits are a sham to paint the company as more supportive of its employees than it actually is,” one user wrote. “In reality *all* the benefits are way worse/harder to use than they make it seem. It was the same way with trans-affirming healthcare. Starbucks is horrible.”
“…another fucking example of sbux designing their benefits package to appear super worker-friendly to consumers who want to feel good about themselves while doing nothing for mass amounts of workers,” another user said tweet. “Only union contracts will yield real results.”