As the number of unionized Starbucks stores continue to rapidly grow — at last count, 64 stores voted to unionize, or 82% of the total union elections that have been counted — the labor violations accusations against the coffee chain have also increased.
This week, the National Labor Relations Board filed complaints in federal district court on Tuesday seeking injunctive relief for seven employees in Memphis who were allegedly “unlawfully terminated” for attempting to form a union. The NLRB is asking Starbucks to reinstate these workers to their former positions. The petition also wants Starbucks to cease and desist all anti-union practices including disciplining employees that start or participate in union campaigns and removing pro-union materials.
“Without immediate interim relief from this court, Starbucks could irreparably harm the campaign in Memphis, and send a chilling message to its employees across the country that they too will suffer the same fate as the terminated Memphis employees if they dare to exercise their right to engage in protected activities,” NLRB regional director Kathleen McKinney said in a statement.
On Thursday, the labor board also filed legal complaints against Starbucks for allegedly unlawfully terminating three employees and constructively discharging on employee in Kansas City, Mo. and Overland Park, Kan. Stores. The accusations in the latter case include Starbucks allegedly threatening to deny a pro-union trans employee gender-affirming care because of their support for the union, and Starbucks trying to call the police on pro-union employees after a meeting with corporate during which employees attempted to demand recognition of the union.
“Getting the news today that these ULP charges are being taken seriously has made me cry tears of joy for the first time since the launch of this campaign,” Alydia Claypool, one of the three fired Overland Park, Kan. who was recently reinstated as shift supervisor told SBWorkers United. “It brings me great joy to see the NLRB proceeding with these [unfair labor practice complaint]. I am optimistic that we will all get the justice we believe we deserve. This is the hope we all needed today.”
NRN has contacted Starbucks for a comment on both cases but did not receive a response in time for publication.
These legal filings follow another wave of complaints filed by the NLRB last week of 33 charges of unfair labor practices that included 200+ alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act. This case originated in Buffalo, N.Y. the origins of the wave of Starbucks unionization that began last fall.
In response to that complaint, Starbucks denied wrongdoing:
“Starbucks does not agree that the claims have merit, and the complaint’s issuance does not constitute a finding by the NLRB,” Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesperson told NRN at the time. “It is the beginning of a litigation process that permits both sides to be heard and to present evidence. We believe the allegations contained in the complaint are false, and we look forward to presenting our evidence when the allegations are adjudicated.”
According to the National Labor Relations Board, as of Tuesday, there are 128 open Starbucks-related unfair labor practice cases spread across 19 states. 125 of these have been filed by SBWorkers United, two have been filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and two have been filed by Starbucks against SBWorkers United.
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]
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