The National Labor Relations Board is asking a court to reinstate seven Starbucks workers who were allegedly illegally fired because they were involved in union organizing.
If approved by a judge, the NLRB filing would allow former Starbucks employees who worked at several Buffalo, NY locations to return to work while anti-union charges against Starbucks are heard in court, a Process that can take months. The matter is to be heard on July 11.
The workers claim they were selected for the job by Starbucks’ managers. A former employee, Angel Crempa, said she was once fired after a series of “targeted attacks” when the management of her store realized she was involved in organizing the union. She says that when she was hired, her manager told her that she used to wear multiple nose piercings and suicide prevention pins to work every day. But a new manager who had started in January after the union campaign began to take issue with piercings and pins. Crempa says he was asked to remove them and refused. The Starbucks Handbook for Employees states that only unionized PINs are allowed.
Before being removed, Crempa says she received several written warnings for refusing to remove one of her piercings or to remove the pin. He even got a warning of missing work once because his car would not start. She said her managers claimed she didn’t inform the store that she would be absent. Crempa said she called her manager to tell her she was trying to catch a ride.
Crempa thinks the disciplinary actions were motivated by advocating for a union, and is confident that the judges will see it that way.
“I don’t think we’re going to lose either of these next two tests,” Crempa said at both a July 11 hearing about Starbucks’ alleged unfair labor practices to immediately reinstate him and other workers. Referring to.
Crempa’s Starbucks location voted to unionize on March 23. He was fired on 1 April.
Starbucks has denied any anti-union allegations. “As we have previously stated, we believe these claims to be false and will stand ready to defend our case,” Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges said in an email to NPR.
The company raised pay and promised improvements such as centralized training and store renewals, according to court documents, to reduce unionization efforts at several Buffalo Starbucks locations. CEO Howard Schultz said in May that all Starbucks employees were receiving new benefits — including expanded training, better sick leave and credit card tipping — but that stores with active union efforts would be excluded.
An NLRB spokesperson said the corporation also sent managers to discourage union activity and close stores with active union drives.
The impact of the recent filing could be across the country. If the judge ruled in favor of the NLRB, Starbucks would have to immediately stop the alleged anti-union activity at all stores. This would also require recognizing and negotiating with the Starbucks Workers United Union. The NLRB is trying to put an immediate stop to unfair labor practices as it will take too long to clear the violations while waiting for the court to hear the matter.
A Starbucks in Buffalo was the first in the chain to form the association in December, beginning a significant wave of events at Coffee Corporation’s stores. Since then, more than 150 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, and 25 have voted against it, according to NLRB data.
The NLRB area, which covers much of New York, including Buffalo, has filed a complaint with more than 200 allegations of unfair labor practices by Starbucks.
The NLRB filed similar claims to reinstate Starbucks workers in Memphis, Tenn., and Phoenix. The Memphis case is ongoing and Phoenix’s claim was dismissed by a judge earlier this month.