Starbucks today faced mounting pressure over its approach towards unions after German financial services giant Allianz vowed to back a push to force the coffee seller to overhaul its labour policies.
Allianz GI today vowed to support an investor resolution calling on Starbucks to overhaul its approach to workers’ unions, following concerns about the coffee seller’s alleged anti-worker activities.
The German giant said it will back the resolution at Starbucks’ annual general meeting (AGM), as the coffee seller continues to face criticism over its reported efforts to block staff from forming unions.
Allianz’ intervention comes as Starbucks workers have accused the firm of stifling their efforts to unionise, by firing and threatening staff involved in union activities.
A judge in 2022 ruled Starbucks unlawfully threatened staff at its flagship Seattle store by hosting meetings in which they were told their benefits would be reduced if they formed a union.
Starbucks also unlawfully fired four employees involved in union activities at its stores in St Louis and Kansas City after they began unionising in early 2022, a US judge said.
The shareholder resolution raises concerns that Starbucks’ approach towards unions threatens to create “reputational, legal and operational risks for the company that may impact long-term value”.
It notes that Starbucks is currently facing more than 1,500 lawsuits surrounding to its approach towards unions.
The resolution calls on Starbucks to carry out an independent review of its approach to unions and to set out clear policies to ensure comapany management does not interfere in union activities.
Allianz’ pledge to back the investor resolution signals top institutional investors are increasingly becoming concerned about the social aspects of the ESG agenda.
German insurer Allianz first launched its asset management arm in 1998. Allianz GI now manages more than £500bn worth of assets.
Labour issues have in recent years risen up activist investors’ agendas, due to concerns about strikes, discrimination lawsuits, and reputational damage, 2021 research from Fitch ratings agency shows.
The shareholder resolution is being brought forward by ESG investor Trillium Asset Management, Canadian homelessness charity the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, and the Merseyside Pension Fund.
Starbucks was approached by City A.M. for comment.