Starbucks CEO Pushed Managers to Thwart Unionization Efforts, Leaked Video Shows

Leaked footage of a video call in which Starbucks’ billionaire CEO urges managers to step up their efforts to thwart worker unionization is yet another sign of the company’s growing desperation, labor advocates saidThursday

In the undated video publishedPro-worker Media Organization More Perfect Union, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz — who earlier this month became the company’s CEO for the third time — implored managers “to encourage [employees] to really understand what it might mean to vote for a union.”

Offering no evidence, Schultz — who referred to unionizing employees as “so-called workers” and “a new outside force that’s trying desperately to disrupt our company” — said, “I wasn’t there, but there are stories that people potentially had been bullied not to vote.”

Starbucks North America president Rossann Williams also appears in the video, telling managers that it’s their “number one responsibility” to “do your role” to ensure that employees “get balanced information about what’s going on.”

Williams also implored Starbucks employees to be skeptical of accounts published by workers who say they’ve experienced corporate retaliation and union-busting.

“Don’t believe everything you see in social media,” she said. “For those of you that have reached out, it’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking for me to see and hear how some partners are talking about the company that I love.”

According to More Perfect Union, Starbucks has “regularly shut down stores, isolated new workers, held captive audience meetings, and subjected workers to a barrage of emails, texts, and videos with anti-union rhetoric.”

Starbucks Workers United, the union behind this organizing effort, claims it has filed more 80 unfair labor practice complaints against Starbucks with the National Labor Relations Board.

On Wednesday, Starbucks filed its own unfair labor practice charges against members of Starbucks Workers United, accusing them of a “consistent pattern of disturbing behavior.”

In response to the complaints, the union said that “Starbucks is getting desperate as it loses this war in battle after battle, because we — the Starbucks partners — continue to organize and fight for a real voice within the company. These charges are just the latest example of that desperation.”

Starbucks was formally accused by prosecutors of the NLRB on Friday illegally firingAn activist group seeking to unionize the Memphis, Tennessee store. On Tuesday, the NLRB filed a third complaint against Starbucks. alleged labor violationsThe Phoenix store workers have voted against unionization in the past four months.

Starbucks’ pushback against organizers comes amid a nationwide wave of barista unionization. Five Richmond, Virginia store workers were among those who voted against organizers earlier this week. voted to unionize, and on Thursday employees at a flagship location in the company’s hometown of Seattle electedJoin Starbucks Workers United.

Starbucks workers are in Buffalo, New YorkMore than 200 employees in more than 200 stores across the nation filed for a union election last year.

“We can resist and thrive,” said Seattle organizer Brennen Collins, “even among a storm of disinformation and fearmongering perpetrated against our best interests.”

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