Seattle ( Associated Press) – Rosann Williams, president of Starbucks for North America, who was a prominent figure in the company’s anti-union efforts, is leaving the company after 17 years.
In a letter to Starbucks employees, whom the company calls “partners”, Chief Operating Officer John Culver said the decision was “not taken lightly” and added that Williams had been offered another job at the company, which she refused.
Sarah Trilling, meanwhile, has been promoted to executive vice president and president of Starbucks for North America. Trilling is a 20-year veteran of Starbucks, and recently was senior vice president and president of Starbucks Asia Pacific in Hong Kong.
Starbucks was among the latest waves prominent companies that see union efforts among their hourly workers. In December, the Starbucks store in Buffalo became the first to merge into one of the coffee shops owned by the company in the United States. At least 150 of the company’s 9,000 Starbucks stores in the U.S. have voted in favor of unionization since then, according to the National Board of Labor, and at least 10 stores have rejected the union.
Williams was the last to tell the employees in the letter Starbucks has never favored unionization and prefers to talk directly to employees, but respects the legal process and wants to work with those in Buffalo who voted for union advocacy.
However, in April this year, federal labor officials said Starbucks had retaliated against workers in Phoenix after learning that employees there want to team up.
“Among other things, Starbucks disciplined, suspended and fired one employee, constructively fired another, and put a third on unpaid leave after revoking recently approved accommodation,” the submission said.