Starbucks Found Violating Major Bargaining Law With Unions, Says NLRB

Over 250 Starbucks stores have unionized over the last few years, via The Hill, and it's no secret that corporate isn't happy about it. On the official Starbucks website, there's an entire page dedicated to besmirching unions. 

"There are two paths forward: side-by-side or across the negotiating table," Starbucks writes. The page goes on to list all the benefits corporate Starbucks offers non-union employees and a list of principles the coffee chain says it follows, including "Shared Power, Shared Success" and "Mental, Physical, & Emotional Well-being." Yet, as of October, Starbucks was facing over 325 separate charges of unfair labor practices, per NPR. Starbucks' anti-union activity has even been questioned by U.S. senators.

In October, SBWorkers United and corporate Starbucks reached their first seemingly amicable legal agreement regarding a particular instance of company retaliation against pro-union workers, per Nation's Restaurant News. But, it looks like any hints of diplomacy have since been launched out the proverbial window. On October 24, Starbucks left union representatives at the bargaining table. A Starbucks Workers United member called Tyler Tweeted a photo of union members sitting along one side of an empty conference table after corporate Starbucks reps physically walked out of a negotiation meeting. This wasn't the only bargaining meeting where this happened, either. Now, the coffee giant is answering for its actions.

You can't make us talk to the Union, says Starbucks

Earlier this week, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) unanimously ruled that walking out of bargaining meetings violated labor laws, says Bloomberg

Reporter Jordan Zakarin Tweeted an image of the court order which reads: "By failing and refusing since July 14, 2022, to recognize and bargain with the Union... [Starbucks] has engaged in unfair labor practices..." The Board goes on to order Starbucks to stop avoiding negotiations and to recognize and bargain with the Union.

According to the NLRB ruling, Starbucks has admitted its refusal to bargain and has questioned the legitimacy of the union's victory in Seattle because the labor board held a mail-in ballot rather than an in-person election. The NLRB ruled that Seattle's union victory was legitimate. The NLRB has also dictated that Starbucks will negotiate with union reps at its Seattle Reserve Roastery location, which won its union election in April. Per the order, Starbucks must also submit a form to the NLRB within 21 days outlining the new steps it has taken towards negotiating with SBWorkers United, via The Hill

On November 17, Senator Bernie Sanders Tweeted "In my view, it is absurd that Howard Schultz — a guy worth some 3.7 BILLION dollars — is pulling out all the stops to deny decent wages and dignity on the job to the very Starbucks workers who helped him amass his billions. Absurd. Solidarity with the workers." 

Still, corporate Starbucks has already announced plans to appeal the ruling.