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July 2022 Newsletter
In true David and Goliath fashion, workers recently achieved a major win in federal court against the Starbucks corporation. After several team members were allegedly terminated for participating in union organizing, the National Labor Relations Board filed an injunction petition to have terminated employees reinstated- and won!
Oftentimes fear of retaliation prevents workers from embracing their collective power and organizing with their colleagues. It is not uncommon for employers deploy all manner of scare tactics, including slander, lawsuits, and threats, to prevent workers from fighting against unfair labor practices.
Thankfully there is strength in numbers, and united nothing can slow the progression of justice.
Starbucks Workers United’s (SWU) success in Buffalo has inspired workers across the country with baristas in Arizona and Tennessee pursuing collective organizing. When workers recognize and amplify their collective power through unionizing, not only are they able to unite to protect their labor but they are also able to hold companies accountable for unfair labor practices.
Organizing is a threat to companies that eschew worker safety in exchange for their bottom lines. Allegedly, in retaliation for SWU’s success, Starbucks has fired pro-union employees in Buffalo, Arizona, and Memphis. Now that a collective bargaining unit exists to protect these workers, SWU is able to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to fight on behalf of their reinstatement. The NLRB petitioned a U.S Federal Court in Western New York for “a nationwide cease and desist order” to stop Starbucks from taking further action against pro-union employees.
“We are asking the court to swiftly grant the injunction so that the unlawfully discharged workers can return to work and effectively exercise their right to engage in union activities, including collectively bargaining a union contract,” said NLRB Region 3-Buffalo Regional Director Linda M. Leslie. The petition asked that the court require Starbucks to “halt their [anti-union] efforts” at all of its U.S. stores, including offering benefits to non-union stores, threatening reprisals for employees who support unionization, refusing to bargain with stores that have voted to unionize, and temporarily or permanently closing stores.
“We had a good deep breath that we could finally take because of it,” said Angel Krempa, pictured above, a former Starbucks employee in Buffalo who alleged she was fired for her involvement in union organizing. “It’s exciting to see that the NLRB is taking action for us finally. And we’re just hoping that this continues to move forward in the way that it should be.”