Longtime Georgia Starbucks Worker Fired 2 Days After Store Files For Union Vote

Two years into Starbucks Workers United's (SWU) efforts to unionize and the sparks continue to fly. Logan Matthews, a 26-year employee of Starbucks based out of Georgia, was fired yesterday, September 7, just two days after the employees at his store lawfully filed to hold a union election. Today, Starbucks announced he has been reinstated to his position.

According to SWU's release, Matthew's initial termination was attributed to an event that occurred on July 26, when he allegedly did not place the cash in the safe at the end of the night. Matthews denies the allegation and further calls into question the timing of this termination. He claims that it would be unusual to wait six weeks before administering disciplinary action even if he were guilty of the act, and believes the accusation is a false pretense for terminating him because of his actions as a union organizer. 

In a statement to Tasting Table, Starbucks noted, "Our policies and procedures exist to create an equitable environment for all partners and customers. Following an initial review of the matter, it became apparent that local leadership did not follow our established internal investigation process prior to separating Logan Matthews from our Tara Blvd. and Jonesboro Rd. store. As a result, Logan has been reinstated with applicable backpay and the local leader involved has been placed on leave pending the outcome of a thorough investigation. We thank Logan for his many contributions throughout his tenure at Starbucks and apologize for this failure to adhere to established processes."

Conflicting histories

In February of this year, a Michigan-based federal judge issued an injunction against Starbucks prohibiting them from terminating employees for engaging in union-related activity. So far, 28 Starbucks employees have been found to have been unlawfully discharged, and many more cases are still in the courts. 

As the public continues to focus on SWU's union efforts, one challenge continues to loom large: how to tell fact from fiction. The game ends up being a "he said, she said" mess, where curious bystanders are left to piece together what little information they can glean from competing public statements. And in many instances, these disputes often fade from the public eye as the legal battles drag out. But SWU is committed to keeping folks attention on the issue and has even claimed that Starbucks is "the worst violator of federal labor law in modern U.S. history." Out of 23 court cases adjudicated on the topic, Starbucks has lost 22, resulting in a whopping 230 federal labor law violations. 

The former CEO Howard Schultz and current company management have consistently maintained that it does not engage in union-busting tactics and supports its partners' right to form a union if they choose. But even in stores that have successfully formed unions, no union contracts with the company have been negotiated since the first one was formed two years ago in Buffalo, New York. SWU isn't letting that slow them down. They're demanding Matthews get reinstated and will continue to press the company to come to the bargaining table in good faith.