With over 200 unionized stores and dozens of pending union elections, Starbucks has requested that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) suspend all union elections within the company, a move that the union says is “absurd.”
In a letterThe letter that Starbucks sent Monday was cosigned by Littler Mendelson’s legal counsel. It alleges that organizers at the NLRB conspired to give them privileged information about a union election at a store located in Overland Park, Kansas. This information allowed employees to vote in person at NLRB offices during a postal ballot election. The company says that it’s gotten this information through an internal NLRB source.
The company requests that the hearing is canceled on challenged ballots from the store’s electionThe scheduled Tuesday meeting of the NLRB is being delayed. They also requested that elections be temporarily halted until the NLRB investigates these allegations, that staffers who allegedly assisted the union be disciplined and that all ongoing or future elections be held in person. The company claims that this has occurred in other areas than the Overland Park location.
Starbucks Workers United denounced the letter, claiming that it was yet another attempt by the company to stop the union campaign.
“This is Starbucks yet again attempting to distract attention away from their unprecedented anti-union campaign, including firing over 75 union leaders across the country, while simultaneously trying to halt all union elections,” the union wrote in a statement. Michelle Eisen, a union leader, stated that Starbucks would ask for elections to be delayed while claiming to stand up for voting rights is “hypocrisy at its finest.”
“Unfortunately, it’s now in vogue for the losers of some elections nationwide to attempt to reverse elections by any means they think are necessary, and Starbucks is taking a page out of that book,” the union added, noting that it was “odd” for Starbucks to send its letter just one day before the Kansas hearing is set to begin.
Indeed, labor experts say that the goal of the letter is to delay elections, which would give the company more time to dissuade workers from voting “yes,” throw the NLRB’s legitimacy into question, and potentially sow suspicion between workers.
Spokesperson Kayla Blado says that the NLRB will be “carefully and objectively” reviewing Starbucks’s challenge, adding that the “agency has well-established processes to raise challenges regarding the handling of both election matters and unfair labor practice cases.”
Starbucks claims that union elections were rigged against them due to misconduct. However, the union has decried the many illegal union-busting tactics that the company has employed against workers since the beginning of their campaign last January. The company has fired more than 75 workers. pro-union workersDiscriminatorily given wage raises to all stores except for unionizing ones — moves that the union says are illegal.
Starbucks is currently facing 284 unfair labor practices charges. The NLRB has also filed 16 complaints against the company. These complaints include the findings of the agency that the company More than 200 violations of federal labor laws during the union’s initial push in Buffalo and 500 times in total.
Two open filings are pending with the NLRB regarding Starbucks Workers United. And earlier this month, the NLRB dismissed Starbucks’ allegation that union organizers in Phoenix had blocked store entrances and made threats during a rally this spring.
The company seems to be putting off bargaining with already unionized stores in order to get their first contracts. According to the union, only three stores have been able to bargain with the company for the first time out of 221 stores who have won their elections.