Starbucks used ‘an array of illegal tactics’ against union workers, labor regulators say

The National Labor Relations Board is asking a federal court to order Starbucks to stop using what the federal agency calls an “unlawful set of tactics” targeting workers involved in organizing efforts at stores in the city. coffee chain.

The NLRB’s petition, filed Tuesday in a U.S. district court in western New York, is the board’s third against the company since workers at a Starbucks store in Buffalo. in December voted to join a union — a first for the approximately 10,000 stores owned by the retailer in the United States. Since then, at least 151 stores have voted to unionize and more than 289 stores have applied to the NLRB to hold elections.

Starbucks opposes the unionization effort, arguing that the company works best when it deals directly with its employees. But he has always rejected allegations that he uses illegal tactics aimed at discouraging workers from trying to organise.

“As we have said previously, we believe these claims to be untrue and will be prepared to defend our case,” a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in an email.

In its latest filing, the NLRB asked the court to order Starbucks to reinstate seven Buffalo workers who the agency says were unlawfully fired for trying to form a union. He also wants the court to force Starbucks to negotiate with a store whose union election was compromised by what the panel calls the company’s union-busting efforts.

Starbucks used “a wide range of illegal tactics” including using managers to monitor workers and discourage union activity, closing stores with active organizing drives, and firing seven union activists at five different stores over the course of six weeks, the NLRB said in a press release.

“Absent immediate interim measures, Starbucks will achieve its goal, either by unlawful means, or irreparably harm the campaign in Buffalo, and will send a clear and chilling message to its employees across the country,” said Linda Leslie, regional director of the NLRB in Buffalo.

Leslie filed a consolidated lawsuit in May containing more than 200 allegations of unfair labor practices by Starbucks. A hearing on the complaint before an administrative law judge is scheduled for July 11, 2022.


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The agency is also asking the court to order Starbucks to end a series of behaviors, including refusing to negotiate with stores that have voted to unionize and temporarily or permanently closing those stores.

Starbucks Workers United, the group leading the organizing campaign, welcomed the NLRB petition.

“The company’s union busting has been shocking and relentless over the past 10 months, and the relief sought by the NLRB in federal court matches the breadth and depth of Starbucks’ violations of workers’ rights,” said union lawyer Ian Hayes. Wednesday in a statement.

In an April letter to Starbucks employees, Starbucks acting CEO Howard Schultz alluded to “outside union forces” in the organizing drive, and the company noted that a organizer, Jaz Brisack, was an employee of Workers United, a branch of the Service Employees International Union.

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