(Bloomberg) -- An activist group seeking changes at Starbucks Corp. has withdrawn a slate of candidates for the coffee giant’s board, citing progress in improving labor relations at the company.

The Strategic Organizing Center, which advises union pension funds, said Tuesday it withdrew the three candidates it had proposed in a high-profile campaign to add employee representation to the board.

The board challenge by SOC followed a two-year standoff between Starbucks and the union representing about 400 US stores. Tensions eased last week after the two parties agreed to start talks about how to achieve collective-bargaining agreements and provide a fair process for organizing.

SOC said Tuesday that after discussions with other Starbucks investors, “we believe that by and large shareholders are optimistic the company has committed to these changes in good faith and intends to begin to repair its relationship with its workers, which will ultimately enhance performance and shareholder value.”

Starbucks said in an emailed statement that it appreciates SOC’s decision. “Our board’s focus remains on driving long-term value for all stakeholders, including partners, shareholders, customers and farmers,” the company said.

Advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis & Co. last week both counseled Starbucks investors to support the company’s board slate, with Glass Lewis saying Starbucks had “made positive strides to improve its partner relations.”

ISS said that while the company’s initial response to unionization efforts “translated into reputational damage,” SOC hadn’t established a “material link” between that and company underperformance.

ISS added, “It also has to be recognized that the dissident, despite owning only 162 shares, had every right to run this proxy contest, and has achieved at least a portion of what it ostensibly set out to accomplish.”

SOC in November put forward three proposed members of the Starbucks board, saying the company had gone to “historic lengths” to counter employees’ organizing efforts.

--With assistance from Daniela Sirtori-Cortina.

(Updates with SOC confirmation starting in first paragraph.)

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