The Business Times

Starbucks executive exits after sparring with union organisers

Published Sat, Jun 18, 2022 · 12:25 PM

STARBUCKS said that Rossann Williams, president of North America, is stepping down from her role and will be replaced by Sara Trilling, a veteran of the company. 

Williams, who led the North America business for more than 4 years, is leaving Starbucks at the end of the month, according to a letter from the company that was viewed by Bloomberg. Trilling, who has been at Starbucks for about 20 years, takes over after serving as president of Asia-Pacific.

In the letter, chief operating officer John Culver said the company has “made a difficult, but necessary change to our North America business”. He said Williams declined an offer for a different position within the company. Trilling will report to Culver, according to the letter.

Williams marks another Starbucks departure following the return of Howard Schultz, who is serving as interim chief executive officer (CEO) and is pushing to refresh the company’s strategy amid a deepening union drive at its US locations. After replacing CEO Kevin Johnson earlier this year, Schultz dismissed general counsel Rachel Gonzalez. 

Williams had been put in the spotlight amid the increasingly acrimonious battle with union-backing workers. According to complaints by labour board prosecutors last month, Starbucks violated federal law by firing, threatening and carrying out surveillance on union activists in New York. Labor Board prosecutors have also issued complaints accusing Seattle-based Starbucks of illegally firing activists in Arizona and Tennessee. 

Starbucks has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in its interactions with employees on labour issues. It says it respects labour laws and that fired workers were terminated because of safety violations. BLOOMBERG

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