Starbucks Is Once Again In Hot Water For Allegedly Illegal Union Busting

Despite the political highs and lows of this year, it has been one of the most vital years for the labor movement in decades (via Vox Magazine). Public support for unions has finally begun to bounce back after dropping steadily since the anti-union propaganda and deliberate quashing of unions during the Reagan Administration (via NPR). A big turning point was the Chris Smalls-led Amazon Union victory in New York (via NPR). Given the fact Amazon had defeated the union effort in Alabama and employed typical union-busting tactics like holding meetings where they were fed anti-union propaganda and even, at one point, fired Chris Smalls, it was a surprising win (via CNBC). However, the success experienced at Amazon spread like wildfire to other industries, including Starbucks

Despite pressure from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (via the Washington Post) and the difficulty around unionizing fast food stores, Starbucks employees shocked everyone when they won the vote to unionize at over 250 locations (via CNBC). Despite the victories, reviews from the National Labor Review Board indicate that, like Amazon, Starbucks allegedly did not play by the rules (via Slate). 

The baristas strike back

In a press release from the National Labor Review Board, NLRB, Starbucks, who was once worried about a peppermint shortage, was accused of breaking federal labor laws when they requested protected information from "the Union and workers about the Starbucks Workers United organizing campaign."

Starbucks was trying to obtain the union leadership's internal communication as well as the union's communications with the media. Doing so would expose union operations and place the Starbucks Workers union at a disadvantage. 

According to Vox Magazine, despite stores voting to unionize, Starbucks has not negotiated well. They even tried to offer new benefits to employees who weren't unionized while withholding them from those who had. This tactic is not permitted as it can be viewed as a form of retaliation that isn't legal. 

When discussing Starbucks' actions, the union's lawyer, Ian Hayes, stated, "The NLRB Complaint is a very encouraging step towards putting an end to one front in Starbucks' war against its workers. Nobody should stand for the company using the NLRB's and federal courts' infrastructure to carry out further violations of workers' rights." As of writing, the company is being "prosecuted for over 900 violations of federal law nationwide."