Starbucks’ Next Phase: Buckling Down Against Legal Tactics

by | Feb 23, 2023 | Federal, NLRB, Union Organizing, Unions

Thus far, Starbucks Workers United claims 278 unionized stores, and it’s clear that the nationwide organizing drive has slowed to a trickle. Yet the coffeehouse giant is certainly not out of the woods – not even close. The focus has shifted towards workers’ frustration at not achieving instant success at the bargaining table, which was only to be expected, given that union contracts frequently take a year or more to hammer out.

As well, Biden’s NLRB and some courts are greasing the wheels:

  • The NLRB declared that Starbucks illegally fired employees after allegedly interrogating them over organizing activity at a Philadelphia cafe. The ruling also prohibits Starbucks from firing employees for organizing and surveilling workers regarding union activity. Starbucks was also ordered to rehire two fired Philly workers who engaged in union activism and provide them with back pay. The same goes for seven union activists fired from a Memphis cafe.
  • A nationwide injunction on Starbucks firing workers for union organizing landed courtesy of a federal judge. The order also provides for swift reinstatement of workers who believe they were fired for getting involved with Workers United campaigns. Starbucks plans to appeal the sweeping decision, although the waters of enforcement shall surely be muddy.
  • Outgoing CEO Howard Schultz declined Senator Bernie Sanders’ request for congressional testimony on Starbucks’ adherence to labor laws. A “disappointed” Sanders made noises about subpoenaing Schultz to compel testimony, although that didn’t stop Schultz from speaking out on the union in this CNN interview earlier this week.

The coffeehouse saga continues elsewhere, with a California Peet’s Coffee cafe becoming the company’s first unionized location under the SEIU.

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