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The three Starbucks employees in question were employed in the Phoenix area and constituted three-fourths of the regional union organizing committee.

The National Labor Relations Board sued Starbucks for retaliating against three union leaders

The NLRB is seeking the reinstatement of three Starbucks employees after they were allegedly punished for engaging in union activity

The National Labor Relations board is suing Starbucks for allegedly unfairly firing or retaliating against three union leaders from the company and is seeking injunctive relief and the reinstatement of these employees to the original positions with full pay.

The three Starbucks employees in question were employed in the Phoenix area and constituted three-fourths of the regional union organizing committee: one was suspended and discharged, another was “constructively discharged” and a third was put on company unpaid leave after the “company revoked "recently granted accommodations,” the National Labor Relations Board said in a press release.

One Starbucks employee in Phoenix, store employee Laila Dalton claims she was fired unfairly at the beginning of the month. Starbucks said that Dalton was not fired for helping to organize a union, but for recording the conversations of individuals (her store manager) without consent, which is against the law in Arizona.

Phoenix regional director Cornele Overstreet is asking the court to not only immediately reinstate the employees in question, but is also asking for their discipline records to be expunged, and to post, distribute, and read the district court’s order.

“Employees have the fundamental right to choose whether or not they want to be represented by the union without restraint or coercion by their employer,” Overstreet said in a statement. “The faith of Starbucks employees nationwide in workplace democracy will not be restored unless these employees are immediately reinstated under the protection of a federal court order. Immediate injunctive relief is necessary to ensure that the employer does not profit nationwide from its illegal conduct, to protect the employees’ Section 7 rights, to preserve the Board’s remedial power, and to effectuate the will of Congress.”

Starbucks, however, “wholly disagrees” with the claims of both the Starbucks union, SBWorkers United — which now represents 28 stores nationally — and the National Labor Relations Board.

“These partners were terminated because they violated our established policies. In some instances, they also violated state law,” Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges said in a statement. “A partner’s interest in union representation does not exempt them from the standards we’ve put in place to protect partners, customers, and the communities that we serve.”

Starbucks told NPR that the company wanted “to make it clear that the intimidation, bullying and harassment we're seeing from some union organizers is not acceptable."

SBWorkers United has filed 80 unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against Starbucks over the past several months, accusing Starbucks of unfairly firing union leaders, requiring employees to attend anti-union information meetings, closing stores without warning, and sending executives on surprise visits to stores that are voting on unionization.

"The truth is that Starbucks is grasping at straws while they're launching an unprecedented and aggressive anti-union campaign against workers, including terminating over 19 union leaders across the country," SBWorkers United said in a statement.

Despite this dissent within Starbucks stores, the company — under new leadership from former Starbucks founder/CEO Howard Schultz, who has returned on an interim basis — plans to “rebuild the trust” of its employees and publish an “emerging plan” for change moving forward on May 3 to address concerns of stores without adequate staffing, wages that are not keeping up with needs, and scheduling/benefits flexibility.

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @joannafantozzi

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