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(Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
Strategic Organizing Center
Service Employees International Union
Mary Kay Henry
Wilma B. Liebman
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From time to time the
Strategic Organizing Center may issue the following communications over social media and may refer to the attached article from the Wall Street
Our nominees have experience enhancing human
capital management practices, facilitating constructive outcomes for labor issues and overseeing engagement with policymakers and regulators.
They are committed to improving oversight and safeguarding the best interests of @Starbucks shareholders, customers and employees.
By electing our nominees to @Starbucks Board,
shareholders will be adding independent, objective leaders who have the right skills and experience to help $SBUX address its human capital
issues and chart a sustainable path forward.
Wilma Liebman possesses over 30 years of experience
in labor management, employee relations, wage negotiations, public policy and law - including having served as the Chair of the NLRB under
President Obama. We believe this experience would be additive to @Starbucks Board.
Maria Echaveste is a former senior White House
official and corporate attorney with significant international relations and public company board experience. We believe this experience
would be additive to @Starbucks Board.
Josh Gotbaum is an economic policy and regulatory
expert with business, finance, and public company board experience. We believe this experience would be additive to @Starbucks Board.
Starbucks Labor Group Plans Board Fight
The Wall Street Journal
By Lauren Thomas and Cara Lombardo
November 21, 2023
Coalition of unions seeks three seats on coffee
A labor group is seeking representation on the Starbucks
board, ratcheting up pressure in a battle between the coffee giant and its workers over pay and working conditions.
The Strategic Organizing Center—a coalition
of labor unions, including the Service Employees International Union, that owns a small Starbucks stake—is seeking to address what
it views as a failure by the board to oversee the company’s treatment of its workers.
The group has nominated three director candidates,
according to people familiar with the matter, kicking off what is sure to be one of the most closely watched proxy battles in 2024.
The window for shareholders to nominate candidates
to be voted on at Starbucks’ next annual meeting opened Oct. 25 and runs through this Friday, according to proxy materials.
Like most boardroom fights at large corporations,
the success of this one will likely hinge on who can win the support of the big index funds and proxy advisors.
Over the past two years, about 360 of the company’s
9,380 U.S. cafes have voted to join the Starbucks Workers United union, an affiliate of the SEIU. Starbucks has resisted those efforts,
and Starbucks Workers United has filed more than 600 complaints against the company with the National Labor Relations Board.
Starbucks has vowed to spend $1 billion on higher
wages and expanded benefits for baristas, and on Monday said it formed a board committee focused on complying with responsibilities, including
regulatory oversight and the environment.
The SOC argues that the fight over unionization has
exposed the company to legal, financial and regulatory risks while damaging the value of its brand—and potentially its share price.
The coalition, founded in 2006 and formerly known
as Change to Win, has previously submitted proposals at companies including Apple and Uber, but this marks the first time it has nominated
Unions have notched recent wins for everyone from
auto workers to Hollywood writers and actors, in part because public support for organized labor is at its highest level in decades and
companies have wealth to share after years of strong profits. Even in banking, which is historically union-shy, there are organizing efforts
underway. But with many companies tamping down on spending, the power balance could shift away from workers’ groups again.
SOC has held an economic interest in Starbucks for
years as part of its shareholder-advocacy portfolio, the people said. (Many of Starbucks’ workers are also shareholders, through
the company’s stock-ownership program.)
SOC’s nominees are: Maria Echaveste, a former
senior White House official in the Clinton administration and corporate attorney; Joshua Gotbaum, an economic-policy and regulatory expert;
and Wilma Liebman, formerly chair of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama.
While unionized baristas make up a small portion of
the company’s workforce, they have steadily gained traction since 2021, when workers in Buffalo, N.Y., voted to form the first labor
union at a Starbucks cafe.
Earlier this month, the union said thousands of unionized
baristas went on strike on a busy sales day for the coffee chain—known as “Red Cup Day”—as they tried to bring
the company back to the negotiating table.
It falls to Chief Executive Laxman Narasimhan, who
only just took the reins from Howard Schultz in March and is Starbucks’s first CEO from outside the company, to grapple with the
labor unrest. (Schultz returned for a brief stint as interim CEO in 2022 to help the company navigate labor and operational challenges.)
Narasimhan must also contend with Starbucks losing its edge to rival Luckin Coffee in China, which Schultz has said represents one of
the company’s best opportunities for growth.
The Starbucks Workers United union has said that Narasimhan
should give priority to negotiations with newly unionized workers versus spending his time working as a barista, something he has done
to get a handle on the business.
Starbucks, for its part, has said it prefers to keep
a direct relationship with workers rather than by going through a union. Schultz was called in March to testify before a U.S. Senate committee
on the company’s response to the union drive.
Some investors have already raised concerns regarding
Starbucks’ management of its labor issues.
At the company’s 2023 annual meeting in March,
more than half of the shares that were voted favored a nonbinding request of the company to commission an independent assessment of its
worker-rights practices. The proposal was also supported by both leading proxy-advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services and
The labor group at Starbucks could also benefit from
the required use of the so-called universal proxy card that went into effect last year. Directors nominated by a company must now be listed
on the same ballot as those put forth by activists, enabling investors to pick and choose rather than vote entirely for either one slate
or the other.
Advisors had expected the changes in proxy-voting
rules could encourage first-time activists, particularly those fighting for social issues.
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