Starbucks union pressures board members with billboards, posters – and a butter sculpture

Members of a recently formed union of Starbucks workers hold a rally to celebrate the first anniversary of their founding, December 9, 2022 in New York City.

Andrew Lichtenstein | Corbis News | Getty Images

Starbucks Workers United is deploying a butter sculpture, brass band, billboard and movie posters to put pressure on the coffee chain’s board to accept the union.

Baristas on Monday will target Nike CEO Andrew Campion, Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford and Lego Chairman Jorgen Vig Knudstorp — all members of Starbucks’ board — with attention-grabbing stunts.

Nearly 300 company-owned Starbucks cafes have voted to unionize under Workers United, according to National Labor Relations Board data. The company has yet to agree on a contract with any unionized stores, and baristas have accused management of dragging their feet and not negotiating in good faith.

Beth Ford, chief executive officer of Land O’Lakes Inc. (L), and a butter sculpture of land o’lakes her.

Getty Images (L) | Starbucks Workers Union

In the hopes of speeding up the process, just outside of Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Starbucks workers will deliver a butter sculpture of Ford to Land O’Lakes’ headquarters.

In front of Nike’s flagship location in New York City, baristas will act out a skit, accompanied by a brass band. At Nike’s Oregon headquarters, they’ll unveil a mobile billboard truck asking Campion to “Just Do It” and pass out flyers.

And at Legoland in San Diego, the union plans to hand out Lego Star Wars-inspired posters comparing former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to Darth Vader and Knudstorp to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

“Community allies” will also take part, according to Starbucks Workers United.

Monday’s planned action comes as Starbucks faces more attention for its alleged union busting. On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders grilled Schultz during a Senate panel on the matter. Throughout the hearing, which lasted more than two hours, Schultz denied that the company ever acted illegally, despite judges finding that it broke federal labor law 130 times.

A week prior, Starbucks shareholders voted in favor of a third-party probe into the company’s commitment to workers’ rights. The results of the vote are non-binding. The company has said it’s already undergoing a human rights review, although it’s unclear what that entails.

But pressure from lawmakers and shareholders haven’t yielded any changes in Starbucks’ strategy. On Saturday, Starbucks Workers United said the company fired Alexis Rizzo, the employee responsible for igniting the union push more than a year and a half ago in Buffalo, New York.