Two locations of Good Karma Café in Philadelphia have collected enough employee signatures to trigger a vote with the National Labor Relations Board to decertify the stores’ unionization with Workers United on Sept. 7.
A decertification petition is filed when at least 30% of workers at a unionized business wish to no longer be represented by their union. According to the National Labor Relations Act, workers have to wait at least one year under a union before starting the decertification process.
Four Philadelphia locations of Good Karma Café have been unionized since last year, and if workers voted yes to decertify the union election, the stores would no longer be represented by Workers United, the union that also represents 340+ Starbucks stores. Employees that led the campaign to decertify are being represented by the National Right to Work Foundation legal defense, which states that Pennsylvania lacks Right to Work protections for private center employees. As a result, employees at these unionized Good Karma stores are required to join the union and pay dues, even if they don’t want to be represented, as union laws vary state by state.
“After the Workers United union was installed, there was a lot of employee turnover and we soon found ourselves very short-staffed,” Good Karma employee Marco Camponeschi, who submitted the decertification petition, said in a statement. “Workers United union officials have been bad for the stability of Good Karma and have not stood up for the interests of me and my coworkers, and I’m sure that a majority of my coworkers will vote to move forward without their presence.”
Good Karma Café workers are not the only recently unionized employees to rethink their union representation. In May, NRN reported that three Starbucks stores in New York filed for union decertification, and now that number is up to 15, according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, with locations in Minnesota, South Carolina, and Utah joining the fray.
In recent months there has been a slowdown of unionization activity, particularly at Starbucks, and an increase in decertification requests, which are up by 20% this year, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Most recently, Starbucks’ largest store, the Reserve Roastery in Chicago, voted to reject unionization, with employees stating that the union drove a wedge between workers and management, though Workers United maintains that the “no” vote was a result of Starbucks’ continued “aggressive union busting tactics.”
There has also been backlash against the tactics of Workers United, which has been criticized for using “union salting” as a tactic, where employees at stores are paid by the union to organize workers.
Workers United and the National Labor Relations Board did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.