Starbucks Fired 20 Union Leaders, Report Claims
18:33 GMT 19.05.2022 (Updated: 18:35 GMT 19.05.2022)
Starbucks is just one of multiple retail and fast food chains that are experiencing unionization efforts and strikes. McDonalds, Wendy’s, Dollar General and more have had issues with workers demanding higher pay and better benefits.
In the midst of a worker uprising that has seen 250 stores across 35 states file petitions for unionization, Starbucks has fired 20 union leaders, according to The Guardian.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued complaints about most of the firings, demanding Starbucks rehire and pay backpay to three workers in Arizona, six workers in Buffalo, New York, three workers in Overland, Kansas, and seven workers in Memphis, Tennessee.
If a settlement is not reached, the cases will be heard in front of an administrative judge.
Additionally, the NLRB says Starbucks has engaged in more than 200 labor violations since late 2021. NLRB regional boards have separately filed 45 complaints against the coffee company.
Another potential legal issue is that Starbucks recently rolled out new benefits for stores nationwide, but any store that voted to unionize was exempted.
According to the NLRB, 69 stores have voted in favor of unionization as of May 13. Nine stores have voted against unionization and an additional six stores are pending ballot challenges.
Meanwhile, workers have been protesting against Starbucks’ alleged anti-union practices, including in Oregon, Washington, and South Carolina.
One fired Starbucks shift supervisor, Ashlee Feldman was fired just days before her store’s union ballots were sent out. Feldman has an eight year old son who is autistic and requires costly therapy.
“These higher-ups don’t care about us.” Feldman told The Guardian, “they aren’t in the stores busting ass like we are. They don’t connect with the customers like we do.”
In response to questions about Feldman’s firing, a Starbucks spokesperson gave The Guardian a statement that read, “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.”
Part of that statement was repeated verbatim to The Oregonian, in response to their questions about the employee protests in Portland.
“Any claims of anti-union activity are categorically false,” additionally, that statement included another paragraph. “We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. We respect our partner’s right to organize and are committed to following the NLRB process.”
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been traveling across the nation, speaking to Starbucks employees at stores and conference centers. He created some bad PR for the company in April when he told an employee asking about unionization “If you hate Starbucks so much, why don’t you go somewhere else?” Earlier in the month Schultz described unionization efforts as “outsiders trying to take our people.”