Earlier this month Starbucks Workers United, the organization collectively bargaining on behalf of all unionized locations in the United States, alleged that the company was withholding nationwide wage raises from unionized workers in retaliation for their efforts. Starbucks claimed that they were unable to offer the pay increases to union workers without first collectively bargaining, with Starbucks Workers United parrying that they have the option to forgo the bargaining table for any new benefits they agree with and that they were in fact waiving that right, leaving the ball in Starbucks court to offer the raises to union workers.
The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board saying as much, and the NLRB has now responded, siding with Starbucks Workers United, alleging that Starbucks “illegally withheld wages and benefits from thousands of unionized baristas.”
As reported by the Washington Post, the NLRB’s newly-released complaint states that the coffee corporation’s denial of benefits to unionized workers done to “discourage union organizing.” And according to the complaint, the company withheld more that just wages, but added benefits including: access to Starbucks’ “Coffee Masters” expertise program, investments in new equipment, enhanced tipping technology, a more relaxed dress code, faster sick time accrual, and career growth opportunities.
The NLRB is requesting Starbucks to backpay union baristas through last May, as well as turn over all payroll records, time cards, and personnel reports to assess if any additional wages are owed to union workers. The request also seeks an apology letter from the company to be sent out to all affected baristas, a training program for managers and supervisors on workers’ rights and labor laws, as well as requiring “[interim CEO Howard] Schultz to [record a video] statement to workers about their union rights.”
In an email to the Washington Post, Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges counters that the company has been “following NLRB rules when it comes to unilaterally giving benefits.”
Starbucks has until October 25th to settle the complaint, otherwise a hearing will be held with an administrative law judge to resolve the matter.
This story is developing…