Starbucks charged with more than 200 labor violations in NLRB complaint

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

Lindsay DeDario | Reuters

The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Buffalo, NY, filed the complaint Friday accusing Starbucks of 29 counts of unfair labor practices, including more than 200 violations of the Ethics National Labor Relations Act.

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

In the complaint, seen by CNBC, the NLRB alleges Starbucks interferes with, restricts, and coerces employees who are seeking to unite in various ways. The independent federal agency’s regional office says the coffee giant has threatened and intimidated workers by closing stores in the area, reducing workers’ compensation, enforcing policies policies against union advocates in ways that discriminate, supervise and fire 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, has promised to increase benefits if workers refuse to organize. Buffalo was the center of the caravan drive. The city where the first store was located vote in favor of the organization in December and sparked a nationwide movement.

Starbucks spokeswoman Reggie Borges said in a statement to CNBC: “The complaint, filed by the NLRB Regional Director in Buffalo, concerns material matters. “However, Starbucks does not agree that the claims are well-founded and that the filing of the complaint is not the conclusion of the NLRB. This is the beginning of a litigation process that allows both parties to be heard and brought forward. We believe the allegations in the complaint are untrue and we look forward to presenting our evidence when the allegations are heard.”

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

The NLRB regional office complaint covers the monthly fees the union has brought against the company. Starbucks will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

To remedy the allegations, the NLRB’s general counsel sought worker rehabilitation and asked Schultz or Rossann Williams, executive vice president of operations for Starbucks North America, to hold a meeting with employees, unions and representatives. government representatives present. At the meeting, videotaped and distributed, an official reads out an employee rights notice.

“Starbucks has said no union vandalism has ever occurred in Buffalo. Today, the NLRB set a record. The complaint confirms the extent and depravity of Starbucks’ conduct in Western New York over more than a year. last year,” the Starbucks United worker said in a statement. “Starbucks will be held accountable for the union-destroying minefield they forced workers to cross to fight for their right to organize. This complaint completely exposes Starbucks’ facade as a ‘progressive company. ministry” and expose the truth about Howard Schultz’s fight against unions. “

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schultz, who is working in third place as Starbucks CEO, has been an active and strong opponent of consolidation in the past. The company recently announced investments in worker pay and training, but said those benefits don’t automatically transfer to union stores. no separate bargaining discussions.

Schultz told analysts during the company’s earnings conference call on Tuesday.

The baristas union’s push got more exposure on Thursday when the White House hosted leaders who organized campaigns at Starbucks and other companies like Amazon. Starbucks wrote to the White House asking to hold a meeting of its own, calling the event “of deep concern,” as most put it. partners opposed to being in a union.

Starbucks United workers filed more than 100 unfair labor practices allegations against Starbucks, while the company filed two petitions against the union in return. Starbucks United employees also recorded a recent victory when NLRB officials petitioned federal court forced the company to bring back active employees who said they had been removed due to union lobbying.

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