June 21, 2024

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Labor Council says Starbucks illegally withheld raises from union workers

Labor Council says Starbucks illegally withheld raises from union workers


The National Labor Relations Board alleged in a complaint Wednesday that Starbucks has illegally withheld the salaries and benefits of thousands of union coffee workers.

The complaint arrives during a campaign by the coffee chain and its interim CEO, Howard Schultz, to curtail union efforts in its stores across the United States. More than 230 locations have voted to join the Starbucks workers union since late 2021, leading to an increase in unions nationwide.

The NLRB has been seeking delayed payments and benefits for union workers since May and is asking Schultz to read a statement to workers about their union rights. The board, which is charged with enforcing labor laws that protect union rights, said Starbucks’ refusal of benefits and raises to union workers was intended to discourage union organizing.

But Starbucks denied it. “We’ve been clear that we’re following the NLRB rules when it comes to providing benefits unilaterally,” Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Burgess wrote in an email.

The company mentioned in press release In July, it cannot legally change benefits or wages without bargaining with the union once it exists. The statement “Partners can still access all Starbucks benefits already in place when you file the petition, but any changes to your salary, benefits, and working conditions that Starbucks puts in place after that time will not apply to you and you will have to bargain,” the statement says.

Union activists were thrilled that the Labor Council was taken into account. “This is a historic victory for democracy and the rule of law,” Richard said. “The billionaire CEO must apologize to employees for offending them and violating their rights as well as making them whole.” Bensinger, a lead campaign organizer for the Starbucks Workers Union.

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Starbucks tried to fend off union efforts as regulators built momentum. Schultz announced in May that the company would raise wages and double the hours of training at more than 10,000 corporate-owned stores. But he said these changes would not apply to union shops or stores that are in the process of unionizing, where workers have applied for union elections.

“We don’t have the same freedom to make these improvements in locations where there is a union or where unions are organized,” Schultz said on an earnings call at the time.

In August, nonunion Starbucks workers hired since May 2 saw their wages increase to $15 an hour or 3 percent, whichever is higher. Employees with between two and five years of experience earned at least a 5 percent increase, or a 5 percent increase over their market start rate, whichever is greater. Non-union coffee workers with more than five years of experience received increases of at least 7 percent or 10 percent over their market start rate, whichever is greater.

This year Schultz stated that employees who did not seek union benefits will gain access to the chain Re-launch of the Coffee Experience Program, known as “coffee connoisseurs”. Non-union stores will see new investments in equipment and technology and improved customer heart options. Other communications have stated that the dress code will be updated to allow more flexibility in piercings and tattoos, but only for non-union workers. According to the Labor Council, these benefits have been withheld from union workers since May.

The complaint alleges that the company also withheld benefits for accumulating faster sick time, career growth opportunities, and expanded credit card guidance from union-store workers.

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The Labor Council says failure to extend these benefits and raise wages to union workers violates the National Labor Relations Act, which protects workers’ rights to engage in union activity free from interference, coercion and retaliation.

Gianna Reeve, a Starbucks barista and union organizer in Buffalo, said she did not receive a salary increase in August because she works in a union store.

The Labor Board also requires Starbucks to provide a copy of all payroll records, time cards and employee reports so that it can analyze the amount of back pay owed to workers. The treatment outlined in the complaint requires the company to send letters of apology to all affected baristas and to conduct training for managers and supervisors on labor rights and labor law.

Starbucks can try to settle the issue. Otherwise, the Administrative Law Judge will hold a hearing on the matter on October 25.

The NLRB also challenged the company’s response to the union’s campaign in federal district court. A federal judge last week I ordered a return of Starbucks Seven dismissed baristas participate in organizing unions in a store in Memphis. The Starbucks Workers Union says the coffee giant has fired more than 75 union leaders since December.