Starbucks Accused of Closing Stores to Stop Unions: Latest News

Get the latest on Starbucks' legal battle over alleged store closures hindering unions. Stay informed with unfolding developments.

Dec 14, 2023 - 11:25
Dec 14, 2023 - 11:25
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Starbucks Accused of Closing Stores to Stop Unions: Latest News
Starbucks Accused of Closing Stores to Stop Unions: Latest News

Starbucks Corporation is confronting legal scrutiny as a U.S. labor agency seeks to compel the reopening of 23 stores that were allegedly closed to thwart a nationwide union campaign. This development marks the latest in a series of accusations levied against the coffee giant regarding purportedly illegal labor practices.

Details of the Complaint:

A complaint issued by a regional director at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Wednesday contends that eight of the shuttered stores in the United States had already unionized before their closure. Since 2021, more than 360 of Starbucks' 9,300 U.S. stores have witnessed workers voting to join unions, leading to over 100 complaints at the NLRB accusing the company of various unlawful union-busting activities.

Starbucks' Response:

Starbucks has consistently denied any wrongdoing, asserting its respect for workers' rights to choose whether to unionize. The company, as of Thursday, has not provided an official comment in response to the latest developments.

Legal Proceedings:

The case will undergo examination by an administrative judge, with potential avenues for appeal to the five-member NLRB and subsequently to a federal appeals court. Starbucks is already appealing a previous NLRB decision in July, which found the company illegally closed a store in Ithaca, New York, months after it had unionized.

NLRB's Allegations:

According to NLRB spokesman Matthew Hayward, the recent complaint argues that Starbucks closed the 23 stores without prior notice to Workers United, the union spearheading the campaign. The closure allegedly transpired without affording the union an opportunity to bargain about the decisions.

Remedial Actions Sought by NLRB:

The NLRB seeks an order requiring Starbucks to immediately reopen the 23 stores and re-hire employees. Additionally, the agency aims for Starbucks to engage in bargaining with unions at stores that have unionized and provide compensation to employees who lost pay and benefits due to the closures.

Parallel Developments:

Coinciding with the NLRB's complaint, Starbucks released a report on its labor practices prepared by an independent consultant, as requested by shareholders. The report acknowledged room for improvement in messaging related to the union campaign but refuted claims of adopting an "anti-union playbook" involving violations of U.S. labor laws.

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