Starbucks’ Union-Busting Was So Bad It Should Be Forced To Negotiate: Labor Officials

The union campaign at Starbucks has organized about 80 stores across the country in just a few months, winning the vast majority of elections held so far. CEO Howard Schultz and his team managed to beat the campaign in just a handful of stores where workers voted against a union.

Now it looks like one of Schultz’s few wins could end in his losing column.

A National Labor Relations Board official has requested that Starbucks be instructed to negotiate with the Workers United union at a store in Buffalo, New York, where the union lost an election late last year. The official says Starbucks has tainted the process with illegal tactics and that holding a re-election will not save it: the company would have to recognize the union and negotiate.

Such a request is not common with the labor commission and shows how blatant officials think Starbucks has carried the behavior in western New York.

“It was a very long road to get here and it was very frustrating to be confronted with a company that has repeatedly violated labor law to force employees to vote ‘no’,” said Will Westlake, a union professor at the shop in matter. “Today we can say we took notes, and the federal government agrees that this was one of the worst anti-union campaigns.”

The request for a negotiated order is part of a complaint filed against Starbucks by Linda Leslie, a regional director of the NLRB. The filing alleges that the company committed a litany of labor law violations by firing half a dozen union workers, punishing and controlling others, closing stores and changing work policies as it fought the New York organization campaign.

“It was a very long road to get here and very frustrating to be confronted with a company that has repeatedly violated labor law.”

– Barista Will Westlake

The complaint was originally filed earlier this month without the request for a negotiating order. Leslie filed an amended complaint Thursday to include it.

That complaint will be brought before an administrative judge, who will decide whether Starbucks should negotiate with employees at its Camp Road store in Hamburg, New York. The procedure is subject to appeal and can take years.

In one of the first campaign elections, Camp Road shop workers voted 12-8 against unions. A bargaining order would effectively clear that loss and unite the shop. It would also serve as a major symbolic victory for the union campaign, which argues Starbucks cannot win without playing dirty.

Starbucks was not immediately available for comment, but the company said earlier this month that it denied all allegations in Leslie’s broader complaint: “We believe the allegations in the complaint are false, and we look forward to presenting our evidence when the allegations are made.” be judged.”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and team are 9-and-79 on the season.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and team are 9-and-79 on the season.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

According to the NLRB, there have been 94 votes so far for Starbucks elections. The union has won 79 and lost only nine; the results aren’t final in another six. Some election results have been disputed by both sides and are subject to change.

The Labor Council’s general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, has launched an aggressive agenda to crack down on companies that attempt to break unions illegally. Abruzzo has specifically said she will try to make more use of negotiated orders when she believes they are warranted. Officials can look for them when an employer has created such an atmosphere of intimidation that it is not enough to hold another election.

In the complaint, Leslie argues that firing union members and other forms of retaliation prevent “traditional remedies” from working in the Camp Road case. She says workers made their desire to unionize clear through a majority signing union cards, and that’s why Starbucks should negotiate.

As part of the complaint, Leslie alleges Starbucks tried to cool union support by closing one store in the area permanently and temporarily closing another, which was later confirmed. reopened as a training center

Richard Bensinger, campaign organizer, argued that the closures should have a broad impact.

“It’s not just designed to scare people in that store, it’s to scare people across the country,” he said.

Westlake said the workers of one of the closed stores were eventually transferred to Camp Road and that, given their recent experience, they were wary of voting for the union. He believes the closure undeniably had an effect on how the Camp Road vote went.

“They all said, ‘We were trying to get organized and they closed our store,'” Westlake said. “It’s just unreal some things that… [Starbucks] did. … You should have a democratic process. There is nothing less democratic than the campaign Starbucks tried to run on Camp Road.”

Starbucks president Rossann Williams spent weeks in Buffalo last year while workers organized themselves as she and other executives tried to convince them against the union. In her complaint about labor law violations, Leslie says Williams or Schultz should read a script informing employees of their rights that have been violated, or be in the presence of a board officer doing so, then watch the video have it made. available to stores nationwide.

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