Image Source: The Seattle Times
Starbucks has dismissed more than 20 union leaders in the United States in recent months as union organizing activities have spread across the country, according to the Guardian.
Starbucks employees have filed petitions for union elections in more than 250 locations across 35 states in the United States. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, has led a campaign against labor unions, calling them “some outside entity that is going to dictate or disrupt who we are and what we do.”
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the United States’ top labor regulator, has filed complaints against Starbucks, demanding reinstatement and backpay for seven fired employees in Memphis, Tennessee, three fired employees in Overland, Kansas, six fired employees in Buffalo, New York, and three fired employees in Arizona. Unless a settlement is made before the hearings, these cases will be heard by an administrative law judge.
Since late 2021, the NLRB has charged Starbucks of breaking more than 200 federal labor rules during union organizing activities. According to the NLRB, regional offices have lodged complaints in 45 cases against Starbucks. Starbucks has also sparked new legal worries by offering expanded perks for all employees, but exempting workers at unionized outlets. Workers at various Starbucks locations have gone on strike in protest of the company’s anti-union policies.
I feel I was fired because I was a pro-union shift supervisor. I’ve been a Starbucks customer for almost three years and have never had a problem.
Laila Dalton, a Starbucks shift supervisor in Phoenix for almost three years, was fired the day before her store’s union election ballots were to be mailed out. Soon after her store announced its intention to unionize, Dalton said she began receiving written warnings for small offenses and was interrogated and bullied by management. Before being fired due to managerial harassment, Dalton filed an unfair labor practice case with the NLRB.
Ashlee Feldman, a shift supervisor at a Starbucks store in St Louis, Missouri, for three years, was fired a few days before her store’s union election ballots were to be mailed out. Feldman said she was fired after she closed the dining area of her Starbucks store to drive-thru only temporarily due to short staffing.
“I believe I was fired for being a shift supervisor who was pro-union,” said Feldman. “I’ve been with Starbucks almost three years and have never had any issues.”
She is in the process of filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board to get reinstated.
“I’m shocked at this firing and all I can think about is my eight-year-old autistic son who needs therapy and care that costs money,” added Feldman. “These higher-ups don’t care about us. They aren’t in the stores busting ass like we are. They don’t connect with the customers like we do.”
In regard to Feldman’s termination, a Starbucks spokesperson said: “A partner’s interest in a union does not exempt them from the standards we have always held. Any claims of anti-union activity are categorically false.
According to the National Labor Relations Board, as of 13 May, 69 Starbucks stores have voted to form unions, nine stores voted against, and six union elections are still pending an outcome, based on challenged ballots.
Opinions expressed by California Gazette contributors are their own.