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Starbucks unionization efforts: What is going on?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | Hotel And Restaurant Unions |

For a while, it seemed like “union” was becoming a dirty word. People seemed to believe that unions were somehow responsible for the fact that numerous large U.S. manufacturing companies were outsourcing their work (or just moving) overseas, where labor was cheap and unions are non-existent.

However, there’s been renewed interest in organized labor unions in recent years, as workers start to realize that they can’t rely on an employer’s so-called generosity when it comes to fair pay, decent schedules, reasonable workload demands and important benefits. Starbucks employees have been at the fore of some of the most notable efforts to unionize in recent years – but not without a price.

Workers at more than 330 Starbucks have unionized – and Starbucks isn’t happy

Amid growing discontent with their labor conditions, hours, pay and more, workers at one Starbucks after another have been unionizing – and Starbucks has been fighting back, often using underhanded “union busting” methods. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has stated that they have more than 100 cases of alleged labor abuses and violations, including refusing to negotiate with union representatives in 28 states.

The issue has been heating up since the beginning of 2023, and a new ruling by a federal labor board judge may only intensify the situation. According to the judge’s ruling, the company’s decision to fire a Manhattan store supervisor who had engaged in union organization activities was pure retaliation. While the decision is probably headed for an appeal, the company is currently under orders to reinstate the supervisor with back pay and stop violating workers’ rights by using adverse employment actions to punish them for union activity.

Given that there are more than 9,000 corporate Starbucks locations in the United States, it’s all but certain that the battle over unionization by the company’s employees is far from over. In addition to the above-mentioned case, Starbucks has been accused of aggressive anti-union tactics all over the nation, including closing some stores rather than allowing them to unionize and harassing or intimidating union activists. However, this new ruling gives hope to many that these union-busting tactics will eventually catch up with the corporation.

If your union is struggling to get a company to come to the table or engage in good-faith bargaining efforts, it may be time to seek legal assistance.