Starbucks’ union campaign has organized nearly 80 stores nationwide in just a few months, winning most of the elections held so far. CEO Howard Schultz and his team only managed to defeat the campaign at a handful of stores where workers voted against a union.
Now it looks like one of Schultz’s few victories may end in his column of defeat.
An official with the National Labor Relations Board has requested that Starbucks be ordered to negotiate a deal with the union, Workers United, at a store in Buffalo, New York, where the union lost an election late last year. The official argues that Starbucks has tainted the process with illegal tactics and that conducting a do-over election will not cut it: The company must recognize and negotiate the union.
Such a request is not common among the Labor Board, and shows how serious executives treat Starbucks’ behavior in western New York.
Will Westlake, a pro-union barista at the store, said, “It was a really long road to get here and very frustrating to face a company that repeatedly violated labor law by getting workers to vote.” ” “Today we can say that we took note, and the federal government agrees that this was one of the worst anti-union operations ever.”
The bargain order request is part of a complaint filed against Starbucks by NLRB regional director Linda Leslie. The filing alleges that the company violated labor laws by terminating half a dozen pro-union activists, disciplining and monitoring others, closing stores and changing work policies as it fought the organizing campaign in New York.
“It was a really long road to get here and it was very disappointing to face a company that repeatedly violated labor law.”
– Barista Will Westlake
The complaint was originally filed earlier this month without a bargaining order request. Leslie filed an amended complaint Thursday to include it.
That complaint will be prosecuted before an administrative law judge, who will decide whether Starbucks should strike a deal with workers at the store on Camp Road in Hamburg, New York. The process is subject to appeal and can take years.
In one of the campaign’s first polls, Camp Road store workers voted 12–8 against unionizing. A bargain order would effectively clear that loss and unionize the store. It would also serve as a huge symbolic victory for the union campaign, which believes that Starbucks can’t win without playing dirty.
Starbucks could not be immediately reached for comment, but the company said earlier this month that it denied all allegations in Leslie’s broader complaint: “We believe that the allegations contained in the complaint are false, and we will continue to do our part in the course of the allegations.” Willing to present the evidence. The verdict is pronounced.”
According to the NLRB, 94 ballots have been counted for the Starbucks elections so far. The Sangh has won 79 and lost just nine; The results in the other six are not certain. Some election results have been challenged by both sides and are subject to change.
The General Counsel of the Labor Board, Jennifer Abruzzo, has laid out an aggressive agenda that will crack down on companies that try to bust unions illegally. Abruzzo has specifically said that she will try to make the most of bargain orders when she believes they are warranted. Officials may seek them when an employer has created such an atmosphere of intimidation that re-running the election will not be sufficient.
In the complaint, Leslie argues that the firing of Union supporters and other forms of retaliation did not make it the “traditional treatment” in the case of Camp Road. She says the workers expressed their desire to unionize with a majority signing the union card, and so Starbucks should bargain.
As part of the complaint, Leslie alleged that Starbucks tried to stifle support for the union by permanently closing one store in the area and temporarily closing another, which was the latter reopened as a training center,
Richard Bensinger, an organizer of the campaign, argued that the bandh was to have a wider impact.
“It’s not just built to scare people at that shop – it’s made to scare people across the country,” he said.
Westlake said workers from one of the closed stores were transferred to Camp Road and, given their recent experience, they were ready to vote for the union. He believes the shutdown certainly had an impact on how the Camp Road vote played out.
“They all said, ‘We tried to organize and they closed our shop,'” Westlake said. “It’s just untrue some things that [Starbucks] Did. … you must have a democratic process. Nothing is less democratic than the campaign Starbucks tried to run on Camp Road. ,
Starbucks executive Rosanne Williams spent weeks in Buffalo last year after activists organized as she and other managers tried to sway them against the union. Leslie, in her complaint alleging labor law violations, said that either Williams or Schultz must read a script notifying employees of the violation of their rights, or stand in the presence of a board official to do so. Must be, and then make video. Available for stores nationwide.