Starbucks Slammed By Judge For Breaking Labor Laws (Again)

Amid ongoing union efforts, a Pittsburgh administrative law judge has ruled that Starbucks' corporate leaders are responsible for "serious and widespread unfair labor practices." This isn't a new experience for Starbucks, which an administrative judge for the National Labor Relations Board took to task in March of this year for hundreds of infractions committed against employees attempting to organize. The alleged violations included spying, threats, and unequal enforcement of policies such as dress codes. In this latest instance, four separate Starbucks locations across Pittsburgh have brought a case against the coffee giant claiming both corporate leaders and store supervisors engaged in unlawful union-busting tactics.

Starbucks' Pittsburgh union alleged that the Starbucks corporation and shift supervisors abused their power and interrogated, threatened, and unjustly terminated members of the union. Supervisors allegedly stated that union members would lose their benefits, be barred from transferring stores, and would be deprived of shift assistance during rush hours. The supervisors also engaged in unlawful surveillance to determine which employees were working with the union.

Store managers and corporate leaders also illicitly terminated four union members on the basis of scheduling discrepancies and tardiness, despite a historically lax late policy. Starbucks' union-busters also barred union members from discussing grievances with higher-ups. The 50-page ruling requires that Starbucks immediately halt unlawful conduct and take "certain affirmative action" by reinstating terminated employees, addressing unlawful scheduling tactics, and compensating any employees who lost income as a result of the unfair labor practices.

Hope for the future of Starbucks unions

The recent ruling in favor of Pittsburgh Starbucks union members could be viewed as a significant win for workers' rights and labor movements. The victory is especially meaningful considering the persistent efforts of Starbucks locations across the nation to unionize. The ruling not only affirms the legitimacy of the unionization process but also serves as an important precedent for other Starbucks workers who seek to exercise their right to unionize.

As employees continue championing fair labor initiatives, over 330 Starbucks stores across the US have formally unionized and countless locations across the nation are continuing to advocate for their demands. Amplifying the Starbucks union campaign to a political scale, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders recently took former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to a national hearing to condemn his support for union-busting tactics.

As efforts for unionization continue at a local and national scale, perhaps there is hope on the horizon for Starbucks' established and aspiring union members.