Starbucks accused of over 200 labor violations in the NLRB complaint

Starbucks workers react as they speak to the media following the union vote in Buffalo, New York, December 9, 2021.

Lindsay DeDario | Reuters

The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board of Buffalo, NY, filed a complaint on Friday accusing Starbucks of 29 allegations of unfair labor practices that included more than 200 violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

The complaint stems from claims made by Starbucks Workers United against the Buffalo company, where the union organizing effort began in August.

In the complaint, examined by CNBC, the NLRB accuses Starbucks of interfering, detaining and coercing employees who try to join unions in various ways. The regional office of the independent federal agency said the coffee giant threatened and intimidated workers by closing shops in the area, reduced workers’ wages, applied anti-union policies in a discriminatory manner, engaged in surveillance and fired workers. among other alleged violations.

The complaint also notes that senior Starbucks officials made “unprecedented and repeated” visits to Buffalo and held mandatory anti-union meetings, noting that leaders, including CEO Howard Schultz, had promised increased benefits if workers did. refrained from organizing. Buffalo was at the center of the union campaign. The city hosts the first shop in vote yes on the organization in December and sparked a movement that spread across the country.

Since the movement began last year, more than 50 stores have voted to organize with Workers United and nearly 250 have petitioned to vote across the country. At least five voted no on the organization. Starbucks has nearly 9,000 locations across the country.

The complaint from the regional office of the NLRB includes months of accusations made by the union against the company. Starbucks will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

To remedy the allegations, the NLRB general council is calling for the reintegration of workers and the participation of Schultz or Rossann Williams, executive vice president of Starbucks North Americas, in a meeting with employees, union and government representatives in attendance. During the meeting, which must be videotaped and distributed, an official will read an employee rights notice.

“Starbucks said there was never a union breakup in Buffalo. Today, the NLRB sets the record straight. The complaint confirms the extent and depravity of Starbucks’ conduct in western New York for most of the time. year, “Starbucks Workers United said in a statement. “Starbucks will be held accountable for the minefield that destroyed the unions through which they forced workers to walk fighting for their right to organize. This denunciation completely unmasks the facade of Starbucks as a ‘progressive company’ and exposes the truth about the war. anti-union by Howard Schultz. “

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schultz, who is working in his third stint as CEO of Starbucks, has been an active and staunch opponent of unionization in the past. The company recently announced investments in pay and training for workers, but said those benefits could not automatically go to unionized stores. without separate bargaining discussions.

“The union agreement won’t even come close to what Starbucks offers,” Schultz told analysts during the company’s earnings conference call Tuesday.

The union push from baristas received more exposure Thursday when the White House hosted campaign organization leaders at Starbucks and other companies like Amazon. Starbucks wrote to the White House asking for a separate meeting, calling the event “deeply troubling,” as most of its people say. partners oppose being in a union.

Starbucks Workers United Filed More Than 100 Unfair Labor Practices Allegations Against Starbucks, while the company filed two against the union in exchange. Hence Starbucks Workers United scored a recent victory when NLRB officials petitioned a federal court to force the company to bring back activist employees who claim they were removed due to the union campaign.