Starbucks unlawfully fired an employee from one of the coffee giant’s stores in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for engaging in union activism, a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled Friday.
The ruling requires Starbucks to offer the worker reinstatement with back pay and to schedule a meeting with employees, management, government officials and the union to clarify workers’ rights and reaffirm the board’s conclusion that the company broke the law.
“I hope they learn their lesson, that firing people because they want to start a union won’t solve their problems,” fired employee Hannah Whitbeck told Bloomberg in an interview. “In fact, it will only make things worse.”
The decision comes amid a series of disputes between the coffee chain and Workers United, a labor group organizing unionization at Starbucks stores across the country. Starbucks said the company’s allegations of union busting are “categorically false” and denied wrongdoing in Whitbeck’s case.
In Friday’s ruling, according to Bloomberg, the NLRB judge wrote that the board’s general counsel demonstrated that Starbucks “acted with animosity” when it fired the employee, who participated in the store’s unionization efforts. in question. Starbucks did not say whether it plans to appeal.
The union representing the employees, Starbucks Workers United, accused the company of firing more than 80 employees because of their activism. The Starbucks union won 220 election victories from about 9,000 company-owned U.S. stores in the past year.
Employees at Starbucks stores – or “partners” – who support the unionization drive said they were underpaid, undertrained and poorly treated. These claims have been widely dismissed by society.
“From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we don’t want a union between us as partners, and that belief hasn’t changed,” said Starbucks executive vice president Rossann Williams. , in a statement last year. “Our hope is that union representatives also come to the table with mutual good faith, respect and positive intent.”
Separately, the NLRB said last week that petitions for union representation rose 53% in fiscal year 2022 compared to 2021 – the highest number since 2016.
The council said employees are turning to established, independent unions to resolve a range of workplace issues, including wages, benefits and health and safety concerns in the event of pandemic.
“Given the increase in cases we are seeing on the ground, we can expect more cases to come before the board in fiscal year 2023,” said NLRB Chair Lauren McFerran. , in a press release.
The NLRB said 2,510 union petitions were filed in the financial year ending September, up from 1,638 in the same period a year earlier. Unfair labor practice charges filed with NLRB field offices rose 19%, the agency added.
Although the organizing efforts at Starbucks and Amazon have received the most public attention, a number of workers from other, sometimes unexpected, neighborhoods have joined them.
In a Thursday memo, the NRLB said 30 dancers from a topless bar in Hollywood, Calif., will vote next month to join the Actors Equity Association, a union that represents 51,000 professional actors and managers.
Star Garden Topless Dive Bar dancers have been picketing for months for better working conditions, including higher wages, access to benefits, better security and safer stages.
If a majority of dancers vote to unionize, they will become the only organized group of strippers in the United States. Previously, the Lusty Lady strippers in San Francisco organized as part of the Exotic Dancers Union in 1996. The Lusty Lady closed in 2013.