NLRB Seeks Reinstatement of Three Starbucks Workers

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. April 25, 2022

​The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleged on April 22 that Starbucks retaliated against three employees for unionizing activity and asked a court to have them reinstated. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Order Sought

The NLRB's Phoenix chief is seeking an order against Starbucks that would require it to reinstate three employees who were allegedly unlawfully discharged, forced out or placed on unpaid leave. Since August 2021, more than 200 Starbucks locations have filed paperwork to unionize under Workers United. So far, 24 stores have voted to unionize with only two locations voting against organizing.


Separate Complaint

In a separate complaint, the NLRB claimed Starbucks unlawfully fired seven employees in Memphis who were seeking to unionize. The regional office is seeking to require that Starbucks make the fired employees whole—for example, by reimbursing them for lost wages.

(The New York Times)

CEO Statement

In a letter on the company's website posted April 10, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said, "We must not be distracted by the different vision being put forward by union organizers at some Starbucks stores. And while not all the partners supporting unionization are colluding with outside union forces, the critical point is that I do not believe conflict, division and dissension—which has been a focus of union organizing—benefits Starbucks or our partners."

(Starbucks Stories & News)

Starbucks Complaints

On April 20, Starbucks filed complaints with the NLRB accusing Workers United of bullying and intimidating workers and customers at stores in Phoenix and Denver. In the complaints, Starbucks said union organizers have blocked store entrances and exits, made threats and yelled profanities during demonstrations. The complaints state that the union "has jeopardized physical safety, caused severe emotional distress and unlawfully interfered with business operations."


Employee Complaints

Starbucks has displayed on its website a poster that it says reflects "issues we have been hearing from our partners." Among these issues are "dealing with more difficult customers than ever before," stores that are chronically short-staffed, shift assignments that are "so unpredictable I can't plan anything else in my life," reduced hours and inadequate pay.

(Los Angeles Times via Yahoo)

Starbucks Loses Argument That Unionization Should Be Regional

Starbucks lost a key argument in its defense against store-by-store unionization before the NLRB on Feb. 23, as the board ruled that each store may organize for a vote individually rather than having to vote regionally. The decision meant the vote count could go ahead at a Mesa, Ariz., store. The workers voted to organize the store.

(SHRM Online)



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