Starbucks is reportedly threatening trans healthcare benefits to prevent union organizing

Originally published at: Starbucks is reportedly threatening trans healthcare benefits to prevent union organizing | Boing Boing


Divide and conquer is the oldest tactic there is but I’m having a hard time coming up with another case where it’s been so blatantly obvious that’s what management is doing.


The Corporation, hallowed be Its Name, giveth and taketh away.

And let’s be clear, this is not an instance of one “bad apple” manager being an arsehole. They’re parroting back a union-busting talking point (no doubt phrased in HR Culture happy talk) sent to all managers from HQ.


That’s quite vacuous for a threat. I mean, the only way it could fail to be true is if the benefit was not the same but neither better or worse overall.


It is, and the wording is very specifically weird for a reason. This is straight out of the union busting consulting firm handbooks. John Oliver breaks it down well:

For whatever it’s worth, this manager was not threatening trans care specifically (which is illegal), they were just trying to be generally ominous sounding about it. That’s why they say those nonsense sentences that are not technically threats (which again are illegal in union busting) but sorta sound like them if not analyzed too deeply.


I won’t be stopping by there anytime soon.


But… wouldn’t unionizing allow them to bargain for inclusive healthcare? This kind of threat seems like it would push harder towards a union.


So they are threatening people wanting to unionize by - checks notes - threatening behavior that a union would counter.

bold GIF


The strategy (which again comes from union busting firms) is basically scaring people into sticking with the devil they know. If you plant the seed that things might get worse, people can be scared into keeping the status quo. It’s the same messaging used for conservative causes, as it happens. Renewable energy is different and might be worse! Isn’t that scary? All change is bad!

Sadly, it works. The success rate of these union busting consultants is very high.


“I know that you used…” would SEEM to indicate a serious HIPPA violation.


During our unionization process, they would keep offering some of the benefits we asked for to the entire company. They think “Everyone gets this holiday off!” leads to “Why would you unionize now that you get this holiday off?” When, in reality, it leads to, “Hey wow look at what we can achieve through worker solidarity!”


Almost certainly not.

Pretty rude, but they are not a covered entity.

see also: shrub’s reelection. sure he started two unnecessary wars, but you wouldn’t want to change leaders when we’re “so close to winning” sigh


Not being a covered entity would keep a random manager using PHI for labor relations bullying from falling afoul of minimum necessary/access and uses policy stuff; but PHI in the hands of a non-covered entity suggests either a successful inferential attack or a HIPPAA violation on the part of a covered entity.

My guess would be a fairly basic inferential attack; when dealing with a class of procedures that often have deliberately visible effects and aren’t terribly cheap it’s a plausible guess that insurance would be used if available. Given the weaksauce requirements for stripping individual identifiers from ‘Summary health information’ in the group disclosures to plan sponsors case that dataset might work as well; though random managers having it would be a lot skeevier(especially since it would look an awful lot like an attempt to sneak past the requirements imposed on plan sponsors using PHI for ‘plan administration functions’, which include not using it for any employment-related action or decision.

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… or it could have just been heard through the rumor mill or been visually obvious.

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