Starbucks is calling for nationwide pause in mail-in union votes: NPR


Starbucks says regional employees on the National Labor Relations Board repeatedly crossed the line of neutrality to help union organizers in Kansas. Here, activists protest against Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in New York City last month.

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Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images


Starbucks says regional employees on the National Labor Relations Board repeatedly crossed the line of neutrality to help union organizers in Kansas. Here, activists protest against Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in New York City last month.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Starbucks is accusing National Labor Relations Board employees of secretly coordinating with union organizers in the Kansas City area — and wants the agency to withhold all mail-in votes nationwide until a full investigation is conducted. But labor organizers immediately called the move an extension of a broader anti-union campaign.

allegation a. is in the center of 16 page letter Starbucks attorneys sent NLRB President Lauren McFerran and the agency’s general counsel on Monday.

In the letter, which Starbucks shared with NPR, the company accused NLRB personnel and the union of exploiting vulnerabilities in the mail-in ballot system so that, earlier this year, unionized a store in Overland Park, Kansas. But the vote can be influenced in a wrong way.

Starbucks alleges that NLRB regional employees repeatedly crossed the line of neutrality, alleging that despite ordering mail-in elections, the agency sent some voters to Starbucks without notifying them in person. Arrange to cast your vote.

It also said that NLRB workers shared real-time information with the organizers on whether certain ballots were received. And the company said it believes similar action has taken place in at least two other NLRB areas.

The National Labor Relations Board was established in 1935 to protect workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively with their employers on working conditions and other issues.

According to NPR member station KCUR, in the April vote to form the union, six activists voted and one opposed, and the other seven votes were challenged.

NLRB and organizers respond to Starbucks claims

When reached for comment, NLRB spokeswoman Kayla Bladow said the agency does not comment on open matters.

“Those challenges should be raised in specific filings for particular cases,” Bladow said. “The field staff – and, ultimately, the Board – will consider carefully and impartially any challenges raised through these established channels, including opportunities for expeditious review in both representation and unfair labor practice cases.”

Starbucks Workers United, a pro-union group, said the new allegations are part of Seattle Corporation’s broader strategy to thwart organized labor.

“This Starbucks is again attempting to divert attention from its unprecedented anti-union campaign, which has involved firing more than 75 union leaders across the country,” the group told NPR via email. “The workers have spoken loud and clear, winning 82 percent of the Sangh elections.”

Where Do Starbucks Allegations Come From?

Starbucks says the allegations originated with an “NLRB career professional” calling it “with a concerted effort to tip the scales in voting in favor of the union in the Kansas City area (Overland Park) store election.” specifically aware of the mentioned documents.” Starbucks did not name the person.

Asked in a follow-up conversation whether the NLRB worker had used federal whistleblower protocol or had contacted the agency’s inspector general about their concerns, the company said only that the person’s supervisor had refused to pursue their claims. option was selected.

Despite Starbucks’ insistence that its employees—known as “partners”—do not require a union, Starbucks Workers United says that more than 200 of the company’s stores in the US are now unionized. The effort has gathered rapid momentum over the past year, but unionized locations represent only a small fraction of the 15,650 U.S. stores listed in Starbucks’ most recent earnings report.

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