In a ruling released Wednesday, a judge for the National Labor Relations Board addressed 32 complaints against Starbucks for unfair labor practices — and said Starbucks engaged in “egregious and widespread misconduct demonstrating a general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.”
The judge, Michael Rosas, also said the company would need to desist from disrespecting workers’ rights and rehire some workers who were let go amid unionization drives at Starbucks stores in and near Buffalo, New York.
The 200+ page ruling covers the judge’s decision on individual employee cases of unfair labor practice charges, like Cassie Fleischer, who complained that her request to change her schedule was denied amid her participation in union activities. In her case, plus seven other employees that had been “discriminatorily discharged,” the company must rehire the employees, the judge wrote.
The ruling also said Starbucks must refrain from “promising its employees increased benefits and improved terms and conditions of employment if they refrained from union organizational activity,” taking pictures of employees wearing union pins, closing or reducing hours of stores looking at unionization, among other orders.
The first Starbucks unionized in 2021 in Buffalo. So far, 282 stores have voted to unionize and have been certified by the NLRB, per CNN.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told the outlet in February that unions “are in many ways a manifestation of a much bigger problem.” In the same interview, he also said he does not “think a union has a place in Starbucks.”
This ruling, however, represents a win for organizers and Starbucks Workers United, (SWU) a major force in organizing Starbucks locations. Its website says it has helped over 278 stores unionize.
SWU is a labor organization affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has been around since 1921 and says it has around 2 million members.
In a statement sent out by SWU, Gary Bonadonna, the manager of the Rochester Regional Joint Board of Workers United (a part of SEIU), called the ruling “historic,” according to CNN.
“We will not rest until every Starbucks worker wins the right to organize,” he said in the statement. SWU also Tweeted about the ruling.
Starbucks said, per the outlet, that it is weighing its legal options and that it “believe[s] the decision and the remedies ordered are inappropriate given the record in this matter.”
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