Starbucks workers react as they speak to the media after a union vote in Buffalo, New York, December 9, 2021.
Lindsay Didario | Reuters
The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Buffalo, New York, issued a complaint Friday accusing Starbucks of 29 counts of unfair labor practices that included more than 200 violations of the National Labor Relations Act.
The complaint stems from allegations made by Starbucks Workers United against the company in Buffalo, where union organizing efforts began in August.
In the complaint, seen by CNBC, the NLRB accuses Starbucks of interfering with, restricting and coercing union-seeking employees in various ways. The regional office of the independent federal agency said the coffee giant has threatened and intimidated workers by closing stores in the area, lowering workers’ compensation, enforcing policies against union supporters in a discriminatory manner, and engaging in monitoring and laying off workers, among other alleged violations.
The complaint also notes that high-ranking Starbucks officials have made “unprecedented and repeated” visits to Buffalo and held mandatory anti-union meetings, noting that leaders, including CEO Howard Schultz, have promised increased benefits if workers refrain from organizing. Buffalo was at the center of the union campaign. The city is home to the first store of Vote yes to the organization In December the sparking movement spread across the country.
“The complaint issued by the Buffalo National Bureau of Statistics includes important issues,” Starbucks spokesman Reggie Burgess said in a statement to CNBC. “However, Starbucks does not agree that the allegations have merit, and the issuance of the complaint does not constitute an outcome by the NLRB. It is the beginning of a litigation process that allows both parties to hear and provide evidence. We believe the allegations in the complaint are false, and we look forward to providing our evidence when the allegations are resolved.” .
Since the movement began last year, more than 50 Starbucks stores have voted to organize with the ULO, and nearly 250 have submitted applications for a vote nationwide. At least five voted against the organization. Starbucks has nearly 9,000 locations across the country.
The NLRB regional office complaint includes the charges the union has brought against the company. Starbucks will have an opportunity to respond to the charges.
To address the allegations, the NLRB general counsel is seeking to get workers back on their feet and that Schultz or Rosanne Williams, executive vice president of Starbucks North America, convene a meeting with the employees, unions and government representatives present. At the meeting, which will be filmed and distributed, the administrator reads a notice of employee rights.
“Starbucks says there has been no union-busting in Buffalo. Today, the NLRB is setting the record straight. The complaint underscores the extent and corruption of Starbucks’ behavior in western New York throughout the better part of the year,” Starbucks workers United said in a statement. “Starbucks will be held responsible for the union-busting minefield into which they forced workers to fight for their right to organize. This complaint fully exposes Starbucks’ facade as a “progressive company” and exposes the truth about Howard Schultz’s war against unions.”
Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Schultz, who is on his third assignment as CEO of Starbucks, has been an active and vocal opponent of unionization in the past. The company recently announced investments in wages and training for workers, but said those benefits cannot automatically go to union stores. Without separate bargaining discussions.
“A union contract won’t even come close to what Starbucks is offering,” Schultz told analysts on a company earnings conference call on Tuesday.
The Baristas Syndicate’s campaign got more attention Thursday when the White House hosted campaign leaders at Starbucks and other companies such as Amazon. Starbucks wrote to the White House requesting a meeting of its own, describing the event as “extremely troubling,” with the majority of Partners are against being in a union.
The Starbucks Workers Union has filed more than 100 unfair labor practices charges against Starbucks, While the company filed two cases against the union in return. Starbucks Workers Union too He recently won when NLRB officials petitioned a federal court To force the company to reinstate activist employees who they say were fired due to union campaigns.
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