The National Labor Relations Board has requested a bargaining order that would force Starbucks to recognize and negotiate with a cafe in Buffalo, after ruling that the company’s misconduct leading up to the store’s election in December was so severe that a fair election in the future would be impossible.
The Camp Road cafe was one of three locations in the Buffalo area that filed for union elections last fall. In the intervening period, workers say that they were subject to some of the company’s most aggressive union busting thus far.
The petition, which was filed late last week by NLRB Region 3 Director Linda Leslie, alleges that the actions of the company in the run up to the Camp Road election were so substantial that “There is only a slight possibility of traditional remedies erasing their effects and conducting a fair election.”
The complaint cites six examples at the Camp Road store in which Starbucks – through five high-ranking officials, both individually and collectively – “promised its employees increased benefits and improved terms and conditions of employment if they refrained from union organizational activity.” Those occurred over two months in mid-2021, including Aug. 23, late August, and on Sept. 9, 10 and 15.
At the same time, the NLRB asserts that Starbucks and its executives also ramped up a far-reaching surveillance and intimidation campaign. One executive vice president was accused of threatening Camp Road employees that Starbucks would not offer additional benefits in a union contract.
“The NLRB choosing to pursue a bargaining order at Camp Road is nothing short of exceptional. The partners at this location have been subjected to some of the most aggressive union-busting seen in recent years,” said Gianna Reeve, a shift supervisor at the store. “This is the first step for partners at my store to finally receive justice for what they have gone through.”
Starbucks has until June 2nd to submit a formal response to the filing, and a hearing regarding the proposed order is scheduled for the morning of July 11th.
Reporting Courtesy of Sean Hagerup for Labor Radio
Image Courtesy of Thomas Kramer on Flickr