Why Starbucks Is Calling For The Suspension Of All Union Elections

Starbucks has continued to fight against the unionization wave. Earlier today, as Reuters reports, the company requested the federal labor board to suspend all mail-in ballots for unionization votes, claiming that a whistleblower at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) informed the company of a violation in Kansas City. Specifically, the cafe chain claims the organization manipulated the vote in favor of unionization, stating it has been led to believe similar violations have occurred elsewhere.

Sections quoted by AP say Starbucks argued that it wants the votes to be cast and counted properly. Previously, the company and its workers agreed to a mail-in ballot measure. However, some workers stated they never received the ballot, so the NLRB allowed them to vote in their regional office. According to Starbucks, these in-person votes were not carried out with due diligence. 

Starbucks claimed that other locations than just Kansas City — like St. Louis — conducted votes that violated the agreement. The company says it would only be satisfied if an investigation that ended in a public report was conducted, and the NLRB subsequently implemented measures to stop any coordination. "If the NLRB does not respond by investigating and remedying these types of actions, we do not see how the board can represent itself as a neutral agency," Starbucks stated.

The NLRB is standing its ground

Although the NLRB does not comment on ongoing cases, Kayla Blado, an NLRB spokesperson, told CNBC, "Those challenges should be raised in filings specific to the particular matters in question." Once those challenges are raised, regional staff and the NLRB will objectively consider the matter.

Starbucks' desire to push for a nationwide suspension of voting has also been deemed by Starbucks Workers United, the umbrella union organization for Starbucks workers, as yet another attempt to derail the union effort. In an email to NPR, they stated, "This is Starbucks yet again attempting to distract attention away from their unprecedented anti-union campaign, including firing over 75 union leaders across the country, while simultaneously trying to halt all union elections." 

According to NPR, Starbucks specifically complained about the unionization vote in an Overland Park location of the popular cafe chain. Fox 4 reported that this location had voted in favor of unionization in a 6-1 vote on April 8. "We have decided to unionize so very soon they are going to recognize us as a valid union and we will have a seat at the table to bargain," commented shift supervisor Hannah Edwards. However, The Kansas Free Beacon reported earlier this month that the same location went on strike against Starbucks' refusal to include unionized stores in the company's new benefits package.